Ferment Issue 47 // The Alps


Get your après-ski on, with the freshest Alpine beers and breweries







772397 696005


Richard Croasdale


(Maternity Leave)

Ashley Johnston


Adele Juraža





Contributions, comments, rants:



To discuss how Ferment

could work with your brand,

request a media pack or book

an advert, contact:



Anna Karetnikova



Ferment & Beer52,

Floor 2,

26 Howe Street,



This month we’re out on the piste, with a whole box

dedicated to Alpine beers and breweries. As well as

interviews and après-ski food and drink suggestions,

we also take to the slopes ourselves, on our handsome new

Beer52 snowboard. Special props to designer Adele, who

stepped up to this challenge despite being horribly ill.

We’ve also got an update on Lost + Found brewery, whose

new JU-JU low-alcohol IPA is geunuinely one of the best

beers we’ve tasted in this category.

It’s January, so for those of you easing off the booze for

the month, we have a look at some of the totally alcohol-free

soda and kombucha options. Katie Mather even has a crack

at fermenting some kombucha herself (spoiler: there’s now

a vengeful blob of abandoned microfauna at the back of her

kitchen cupboard, doing its best Edgar Allan Poe).

There’s plenty of other goodies too, from the resurgence of

British hops to cider to cinema. We even have (say it quietly) a

splash of Brewdog, if that’s your thing.

It’s a brand new year and I’d love to hear about the kind of

things you’d like to see more (or less) of in the magazine over

the next 12 months. As ever, get in touch at ferment@beer52.

com or on social @fermenthq.


On the Piste, p.14

This issue of Ferment was first

printed in December 2019 in Poland, by

Elanders. All rights reserved. Reproduction

in whole or in part without written

permission is strictly prohibited. All prices

are correct at the time of going to press but

are subject to change.

Got a Beer52 customer service query? Call 0131 285 2684,

email support@beer52.com, or on social media @beer52hq




Matthew Curtis is an award-winning

freelance beer writer, photographer

and podcaster based in London, UK.




Anthony is an accredited Beer Sommelier

and freelance writer based in London.

When he’s not writing about beer he runs

tastings and beer tours. @agladman




Katie is a beer blogger and part-time

goth who loves writing essays about pub

culture. She’s also a monthly guest on BBC

Radio Lancashire where she speaks about

local beer. @Shinybiscuit




As founder of Dead Hungry, Alexandre has

been creating incredible recipes for Ferment.




Siobhan is a freelance beer and travel

writer based in Edinburgh, who goes by the

moniker British Beer Girl. You can find her on

Instagram and Twitter - @britishbeergirl - or

in one of Leith’s many excellent pubs.



Host of “The Zeitgeist” on The Modern Mann

Podcast, Ollie keeps his finger on the pulse so

we don’t have to.


10: big mountain

The brewery that’s putting all the drama, majesty

and fun of the alps into your glass.

16: on the piste

In the absence of a real mountain, we send Ferment’s

designer Adele to find her snow legs in Glasgow.

20: good juju

The new low-alcohol beer from Lost + Found pushes

the boundaries of this rising category.

24: abk

It’s one of the world’s oldest breweries, but ABK is

firmly focused on the future.

28: Craft soda & kombucha

Fancy something soft to start the year?

We’ve got you covered.

36: all hail to the ale

Beer and religion don’t click. Or do they?

48: Geuze on film

Eoghan Walsh looks on beer and cinema.

56: sister cicerones

Meet the women pursuing beer’s most rigorous

professional qualification.

62: city guide - norwich

Your essential guide to the historical

craft haven.

78: harvest - little pomona

Anthony Gladman pitches in at

the natural cider maker.

86: Beer guide

Everything in this month’s Beer52 box.

By Craig Collins @CraigComicsEtc & Mark Brady @HolidayPirate


















From the time Hannibal decided elephants would be

the best way to beat the traffic, the Alps have been a

source of inspiration, awe and – most importantly – fun.

So it really only makes sense that we'd find some pretty

exceptional craft beers nestled among its imposing peaks and

snug valleys.

Covering all corners of the famous mountain range, we have

Big Mountain, Brewery Popihn and Beer52 alumnus Ninkasi

from France, White Pony and the wild Mister B from Italy,

Reservoir Dogs and Tektonik from Slovenia, Bevog from Austria

and ABK from Germany.

What we've found really exciting about putting this box

together is the sheer range of approaches we've encountered.

We have arguably the oldest traditional brewery in the world,

ABK, rubbing shoulders with Italian enfant terrible Mister

B. We have delicate, subtle old-world hops toe-to-toe with

high-alpha US juice bombs. All brewed with the amazing water

that being in such close proximity to the Alps more-or-less


Moreover though, we hope each of these beers somehow

captures the spirit of place it was brewed. As Big Mountain's

Jack Geldard so eloquently puts it: "We really try and instil the

lifestyle, that love of the mountain, in the beers we brew…"

Now that's a noble calling.





WORDS: Richard Croasdale

The founder of Big Mountain - Jack Geldard

The world-renowned skiing town

of Chamonix may not be the

most obvious location for a craft

brewery, but it was the snow that first

attracted Big Mountain founder (and

mountain guide) Jack Geldard here

around ten years ago. Moving from

England, coincidentally, at the same

time as a childhood friend, the pair

quickly noticed the distinct lack of

beer choice. Jack had previously lived

in Germany, so began shipping in his

favourite Franconian beers, while his

pal Matt was already well versed in

the UK’s then-nascent craft scene and

brought his own favourite brews to the


"It was prohibitively expensive

getting them across, and nobody here

was really doing craft, so we opted

to brew our own. We spent several

years perfecting our home-brewing,

developing recipes and learning

the trade. We had a mind to go

commercial, but felt that we needed

to really understand the process of

brewing and also the business side

of the industry before we jumped in.

Our beers were a big hit, and we had

people queuing up to buy them, so we

flew back over to the UK to do a short

commercial brewing course, and then,

well, we thought we better crack on

with it!"

From left: Matthew, Daniel and Jack

This is precisely what they did, and

in 2017 Big Mountain opened its doors

in Chamonix’s, including a fantastic

12-line taproom in the heart of town.

With a brand firmly tied to the pair’s

passion for the mountains and snow

sports, Big Mountain was a readymade

hit, and quickly expanded from

a cobbled together kit to a production

brewery capable of putting out 150

hectolitres a week.

“We’ve deliberately kept it very

manual and hands-on,” continues

Jack. “I feel there's a certain size you

can get to with brewing, and above

that size I think the beer quality starts

to suffer. Now, we've got room to grow

– we could triple our brewhouse size

and still make fantastic beer – but I

really believe above that you start to

lose the personal touch.

“That’s very important for us. We

really try and instil the lifestyle, that

love of the mountain, in the beers we

brew… A lot of the pleasure in those

activities comes from the people

you're doing them with. The sense of

satisfaction you get at the end of the

day comes from telling stories about

who fell off their bike or whatever

over a couple of beers. What we try to

do is extend that outdoor adventure

experience, so that after your day

out you can continue to surround

yourself with the outdoor vibe and feel

connected to that community. That’s

the concept anyway!”

It’s obviously a concept that strikes

a chord in Chamonix, but Jack is

keen to extend his reach even further

beyond his local market, and beyond

the snow sports set. Will it translate

Matthew (Brewery Manager)





Tom (Brewer)

though? Ultimately the beer stands up

by itself, and Jack emphasises that for

all its affinity with the great outdoors,

Big Mountain is a beer company first

and foremost: “we’re not just white

labelling a beer and sticking a picture

of a mountain on it,” he says.

“We haven’t had capacity to push

that much out of our region, and in

terms of margin and easy sales, local is

always better while we’re still growing

in that market. But yes, I would like to

grow the brand, and I think in terms

of finding a broader audience it could

be a big hit. We did the World Beer

Awards this year. Some would say

they’re not that craft-oriented, but you

still have to pass a lot of blind tastings,

and our beers did very well.

“A presence in the UK would be

exciting, so we’re actively looking for

a distributor to take us there next

year. But it’s been an exciting couple

of years and we're really pleased with

how quickly it's grown.”

In a region dominated by blondes

and rousse biers (“some of which

are very nice, many of which are

awful”) Big Mountain’s distinctly

crafty, hop-forward line-up certainly

stands out. The IPA in this months’

Beer52 box is a great example of the

brewery’s approach: old-school west

coast US hops, with the bitterness

dialled down to suit the French palate,

along with low-attenuation yeast and

soft mountain water for a distinctly

We really try and instil

the lifestyle, that love

of the mountain, in the

beers we brew…

NEIPA-like aroma and mouthfeel.

They call this a ‘mountain IPA’ in the

US, because it’s half way between east

coast and west coast, so that seemed

appropriate,” says Jack.

Then there’s a very classic pale ale,

and a full-blown NEIPA in the core

range, alongside a series of constantly

changing IPAs. For those looking for

a more traditional local experience,

there’s also a blonde, cool-fermented

for a super-clean finish, but also with

a cheeky hoppy snap to keep things


More exciting projects are on

the horizon too, included a barrelageing

programme that should bear

its first fruit next year. Of particular

interest to me is the beer named for

Mont Dolent, which borders France,

Switzerland and Italy. This beer is

brewed in France, and aged in French

burgundy barrels, with Swiss apricots

and Italian grapes. The only problem

with this project, says Jack, is that

everyone in the brewery is constantly

looking for an excuse to put a hole in

the barrel for a sample.

Jack is still in charge of recipe

creation, but has brought on brewers

Matt and Tom to help take the

weight of constant brewing. Matt

was a pisteur before he moved into

brewing, while Tom – also from the

UK – is an avid climber. Jack jokes

that the brewery now has all the

mountain sports pretty much covered,

and says the whole team now enjoys

adventuring together.

“It's very much a small community,”

he says. “We all hang out at the bar

together and go do things at the

weekend. It's nice… The Chamonix

locals have been very welcoming

too. I've lived here about 10 years,

Big Mountain Taproom

and Matt a little bit longer. Because

he was a pisteur in the valley prior

to brewing, that's a very sought

after job in the region and he's very

well regarded locally. So you have

an immediate entrance into the


“We've had a lot of support from

the local community, French and

international. We’re bringing quality

beers to a region at an affordable

price. We sponsor a lot of events

and have an open door policy at the

brewery, so people drop in to see it

all the time. Basically, aside from the

French bureaucracy, we’re making

the beer we love and taking part in

the sports we love in one of the most

strikingly beautiful places on Earth.

What’s not to love?”




One for




Our podcast is now live!

This month, Doug and Rich skip straight to the après-ski,

‘sampling’ this month’s beers and sharing

some behind-the-scenes tales from the Ferment team.

It’s all downhill from here...









On the Piste

WORDS: Adele Juraža

PHOTOS: Richard Croasdale

As Ferment’s designer, I spend

most of my time tethered to my

desk, trying to come up with

creative new ways to jazz up photos

of beer and men in plaid shirts. So,

when editor Richard told me we were

going snowboarding for the Alps issue,

I was very excited. Where would we

be heading? Verbier? Courchevel?


“Better than that,” he replied. “Adele,

we’re going to Glasgow!”

Snow Factor in Braehead, just west of

Glasgow city centre, is Scotland’s only

indoor snow-sports centre, offering

real snow all year round. There are two

slopes for skiers and snowboarders, as

well as an ice climbing wall and various

other chilly activities. You can take

your own kit, or use theirs as part of a

session, and instructors are on hand to

get you going.

Sadly, Rich has decided to save

some budget by digging out his old

ski suit from the early ‘90s, which is

apparently a “classic”. Okay. More

positively, the guys at Douk (www.

douksnow.com – see next spread) have

sorted us out with our own custom

Beer52 snowboard, so hopefully

people will just focus on that.

The friendly staff at Snow Factor

sort me out with boots and a helmet,

and instructor Simon leads me to the

slopes. It’s a chilly -4 degrees celsius

in the cavernous ice room, and I’m

suddenly not so mortified about the

garish ski suit. There are a couple of

other classes going on – mostly tiny

children who are clearly going to show

me up – and there are a handful of

more accomplished skiers looking

suave on the main slope.

My instructor for the afternoon

is Simon, who does a brilliant job

at talking me through the basics as

a complete beginner, starting with

putting the board on correctly. Once

I’m attached, it’s time to climb a

short way up the slope; this is easier

said than done, as the technique for

going uphill involves keeping one

foot strapped in and using the long

edge of the board to dig in and push

up for the next step. This is as tiring

and undignified as it sounds, but

I’m excited to have gained a bit of

potential energy for my first run down.

I’ve recently done a bit of surfing, so

my first couple of runs feel a little odd

as I'm thinking of what I learnt about

surfing. Instead of keeping my weight

low, I’m told to stand up straight, with

only a slight bend in my knees. Simon

diplomatically tells me my bum is

heavy, so sticking it out by crouching

will throw me off balance. Thanks

Simon. Once I’ve got my head around

this though, balancing on a straight

path isn’t as tricky as I expected.

Stopping, on the other hand, takes

a bit more skill, and it’s only as I’m

crashing through the red safety net at

the bottom of the slope that I realise

Simon and I haven’t discussed this

yet. Again though, this is relatively

straightforward in theory – you just

put pressure on the front foot and

turn your upper body, so the back of

the board comes perpendicular to the

slope. Then push down through your

heels until the back edge of the board

bites into the snow. Easy right? This

takes a lot more balance though, and I

end up flat on my back/face a couple

of times until I get a feel for it.




I’m pretty tired by this point, my

legs and ankles aching in places

I didn’t even know I had muscles.

Snowboarding clearly takes a lot

of strength, as well as balance, and

Simon says the best way to build up

those muscle groups is just through

regular practice. I’ve got a taste for

it now though, and will definitely be

back for another lesson, perhaps with

a different ski suit next time.

Of course, one vital part of any

skiing/snowboarding adventure is the

après ski food and drink, so we retire

to Bar Varia (see what you did there

guys), a Bavarian-style bier halle and

restaurant overlooking the slopes.

The food is really satisfying after an

hour of lying down in the snow, and

we go for a couple of sharing platters:

sausages, wings and German bread,

all washed down with cold, plentiful

beer (or Coke, for my designated


We may not be rubbing shoulders

with heiresses and movie stars in St

Moritz, but it’s been a great afternoon,

and I think I may have found a new

hobby. Now, if I can just persuade

Rich to let me keep that board…

Our awesome new Beer52 custom snowboard comes courtesy of Douk (www.douksnow.com) a Costswold-based

craft ski and snowboard maker. Douk has been making boards by hand since 2012, tailoring every aspect of the

design to customer specifications, and even offering lessons in board construction so people can whip up their

own from scratch.

We’d honestly never given much thought to how these things are actually made, but the process itself is really

interesting and deeply satisfying to watch. Check out the videos on Douk’s website for a taste. Thanks guys.





Lost + Found’s low alcohol JU-JU IPA represents a new

direction for the highly regarded Sussex brewery

Lost + Found made its name with the kind

of big, hoppy, high-alcohol beers that

hit their fashionable peak a couple of

years ago. Working out of the same Brighton

shed where the whole adventure started, head

brewer and all-round creative powerhouse

Chris Angelkov recently took on the challenge

of creating a beer that had the same bold

character, but at a much lower ABV.

The general premise was to explore the low

alcohol movement that’s obviously growing.

The younger demographic are very interested;

a lot of them are really into keeping fit and

looking good on social media, they wouldn’t

get caught being sick into a hedge. Even

35 and up though, they might want to play

football and then go to the pub with their

mates. They want an option to do that without

drinking pints of Coca-cola. It’s not a health

drink, but it’s a healthier choice than loads of

booze or sugar.

There are obviously more of those beers

out there, but we wanted to see if we could

push it beyond what had been done before.

Coming from brewing a lot of big beers, I think

our concern was that low alcohol suggests it’s

going to be lacking in some departments. So

it couldn’t just be about chasing a trend for

us; we had to make a beer we’re proud of, that

we’d want to drink ourselves.”

Chris has always been a technical brewer,

preferring to put the work into his research

and planning than endless trial-and-error

brews. There’s a good practical reason for this

too, particularly if you’re looking to nail an

emerging trend: with each test brew taking

around six weeks to properly mature, it’s far

better to get it right first time and catch the

rising wave then to wait until next year and

end up as an also-ran.

“I like getting into the science and numbers

of recipe creation, balancing the components

of the beer to make it work. I’ve always done

that from day one and that felt particularly

important for this beer. So I put in the time

and effort up front, acquired the ingredients

and set out on an intensive brew schedule: five

beers in three days, double-batching morning

and afternoon shifts, then really babysitting

the fermentation.”

The result of Chris’s shed retreat is five

new recipes, all at 2.8% ABV. The first to be

released is JU-JU, a juicy, soupy, mosaic-heavy

IPA. In a blind tasting, you would never peg it

as a low-alcohol beer; it’s certainly quaffable

and light on the palate, but with tonnes of

body, mouthfeel and aroma. So how did he do


The trick is in the balance,” he explains.

“Traditionally with a beer you’ve got your four

basic ingredients, and with a low-ABV beer

you’d typically reduce the malts to bring down

the amount of fermentable sugar. For example,

when you drink a 3% best, there’s just spatting




of Fuggle, so you get a balanced beer. But

because we’re throwing in a tonne of hops, as

if we’re making a really juicy IPA, we had to

somehow avoid making hop water.

“So we’re using malts that don’t add sugar,

but do add body and mouthfeel. We’re

adding body builders like naked oats and

flaked wheat. We’re putting unfermentables

in, so they’re adding viscosity and volume.

It’s challenging this orthodoxy that you need

alcohol to balance hops; body balances hops

just as well. Also, we normally use a clean

yeast on our high ABV beers, which breaks

everything down. But for JU-JU we used an

east coast ale yeast, which leaves a lot of

heavies and personality. So you bring the yeast

profile up too. Turning up those three other

components creates great balance, despite the

lack of alcohol.”

The other four recipes in Chris’s back

pocket include a version of JU-JU using Citra,

Lemondrop and Amarillo instead of Mosaic

and (tantalisingly) a white stout with cacao nibs

and vanilla. Sadly, he only made eight litres of

each, and Beer52’s James Brown snaffled our

allocation, so I can neither confirm nor refute

his claim that the latter is “fucking killer”.

“I bottled off 24 and left a couple of pints in

each keg,” concludes Chris. “I’ve been drinking

it and living with it, from sipping it out of the

mash tun all the way through fermentation.

It’s at its peak now, and I keep nipping out

to the shed for another glass. It’s the kind of

thing I’d go for myself a lot of the time, now

I know we can make it to this level without





ABK is one of the world’s oldest breweries.

We ask the secret to its longevity and

sudden growth.

Brewing for at least 700 years

(though probably longer) it’s fair to

say that Bavaria’s Aktienbrauerei

Kaufbeuren has some precious heritage.

Indeed, until relatively recently, its

classic brews could only be found in

the surrounding towns and villages.

That all changed in 2013, when the

brewery was bought by two successful

entrepreneurs, after they were blown

away by the clean, flavoursome lager

during a completely unrelated trip to

Bavaria. Now selling under the more

pub-friendly moniker ABK, the brewery

is making great inroads in the UK for the

first time, marking the next chapter in

its centuries-old story.

ABK sits in the medieval town of

Kaufbeuren. Dating back to 1308, the

brewery first made waves when it

was donated to the townspeople by

a wealthy local baron, and it quickly

became known in the region for its

superb beers. Over the following

300 years, Aktienbrauerei grew and

expanded in Kaufbeuren to become one

of Bavaria’s most important brewers.

Instinctively then, one might feel

a little uneasy about the sale to ROK

Stars, a joint venture between Jonathan

Kendrick (JK) and John Paul DeJoria

(JP), the man who just sold Patron

to Bacardi for $5.1 billion dollars.

Fortunately though, this genuinely

seems to be one of those rare situations

where the passionate new owners just

wanted to put in the resources the

brewery needed to reach its potential,

without fundamentally interfering in

process or values.

“Jonathan and John Paul both

love German beers, so they went out

to Bavaria in search of their dream

and discovered Aktienbrauerei in

Kaufbeuren,” says UK sales manager

Graham Higgins. “When we bought

the brewery, it was really about

finding something with real heritage

and history; we wanted to keep the

traditions and values that make it

special, but also to introduce its

exceptional beer to a wider market.”

As for the beers themselves, it doesn’t

get much more Bavarian than this. In

1325, the Kaufbeuren Brewers Guild

declared that all beers produced in the

town could only use the best hops and

barley and ground-filtered local mineral

waters. Bear in mind this was almost

200 years before the introduction of the

Reinheitsegebot German beer purity

law. Today, it still brews with its pick of

the locally-grown Spalt and Hallertau

hops and grains from the same local

farms it have been using since 1308.

“A lot of beers will add other

ingredients to give them flavour or

extend their shelf life,” continues

Graham. “We couldn’t do that even if

we wanted to; our Master Brewer Bernd

Trick is one of the most experienced,

knowledgeable people you’ll ever meet,

and his word is law on these things.

Nothing but top quality hops, barley

and water, maturated for between six

and eight weeks. There’s no other way to

get that distinctive character.”

That doesn’t mean ABK adheres

rigidly to a few core styles though; the

current lineup is comprised of 18 beers,

and Bernd is known to frequently go

off piste, with seasonal specials and

beers for specific markets. The key is

that he won’t brew anything that isn’t in


Having become an international

brand just three short years ago, ABK

has become a familiar brand in UK,

US Australia and Asia. Despite this

expansion, very little has changed

at the brewery in Kaufbeuren. The

existing traditional brewhouse provided

more capacity than the brewery

strictly needed at the time, so most

of the investment has gone into some

additional fermentation vessels,

an upgrade to the kegging line and

additional staff. ABK now employs

more than a hundred people, all local

to the town and many from families

who have worked for the brewery for


“I think with the popularity of good,

authentic lager growing among craft

beer lovers, there’s a real place for ABK

in the UK,” says Graham. “As well as

being superb beer, it’s got a wonderful

story which isn’t just marketing fluff.

This is a beer that’s still being brewed

from the same ingredients as it was

700 years ago, with real passion, by the

people of the town where it all started.

How many beers can claim that?”



Big B energy

Italy’s Mister B brews big beers with a bigger attitude

Mauro Bertoletti

Mauro Bertoletti’s beer journey

began 10 years ago in Mantova,

Italy, when by chance the

restaurant on his home street, Osteria

Tripoli, also turned out to be the

headquarters of Circolo Del Luppolo, a

club dedicated to historic Italian beers.

Mauro was quickly sucked into this

world, drinking, studying, homebrewing

and eventually traveling in pursuit of

what he simply describes as “just very

good beer”.

By 2014 he was finally ready to

set out on his own, as a nomadic

brewer under the monkier Le Signore,

subsequently opening a pub called

Teatro Delle Birre in his home town,

with a group of his Circolo Del Luppolo


The pub and the beer were enough

of a success that, in September 2017,

Mauro began brewing a few doors

down from Osteria Tripoli, and Mister

B was born, quickly making a name

for itself as the only small Italian

brewery to sell exclusively in cans. The

following 12 months saw the brewery

shift about 150,000 cans and a lot

of kegs all over Italy, before moving

into export with an expanded range

including IPAs, sours, lagers and dark

beers. Last year, it picked up a clutch

of awards at ceremonies including

Italian Beer of The Year and Brussels

Beer Challenge.

All in all then, a busy couple of years

for Mauro and his team, but it doesn’t

seem to have worn him down; he talks

about his beer and his business with

infectious enthusiasm.

“From day one, we’ve tried to put a

capital B on our beers! We keep them

simple and fun, and my over-riding

goal is that everyone should be able to

find their new ‘beer hero’ in our large

core range, because every beer should

be the best we can make.

Mauro’s approach to recipe creation

is disarmingly direct: he drinks as

widely as he can, and when he finds

a beer he loves, he tries to create

something in the same vein, but with

a Mister B twist. “Everything we brew

has to be easy to drink. There are too

many great beers out there for people

to waste their time on boring beer,” he


BAMBA, in the Beer52 box, is Mister

B’s core NEIPA, hopped with Azacca,

Citra and Ekuanot cryo. This was the

first of Mauro’s beers that we tried on

the Beer52 tasting panel and it blew

us all away with its huge, bombastic


“When we brewed the first batch

of this IPA, we used a lot of Ekuanot

Cryo hop in powder form; it was

citrusy, tropical and bit spicy. We said:

‘Wow, it's like a drug,’ which is why

There are too many

great beers out there

for people to waste their

time on boring beer

we called it Bamba. There’s a lots of

funny meaning in that word, and the

face you find on the label is a tribute to

Pablo Escobar. For some, he is a huge

criminal, for others a hero.”

Each of Mister B’s labels is designed

by long-time artistic collaborator

Notawonderboy (known to his mum

as Gianluca Barilli). Even in a scene

where wild labels are two-a-euro-cent,

Gianluca’s psychedelic, eye-popping

primary artwork stands out from the

crowd and, more importantly, perfectly

reflects the attention grabbing liquid

it contains. “I love working with

Gianluca on our labels; once I have the

name I contact him straight away and

he’ll always imagine something crazy

and, by his hand, we find a design

that’s just right for the beer. The labels

must be as easy and funny as our beer,”

he says.

Beer-wise, Italy has really emerged

onto the global stage over the past

couple of years, and Mauro is hugely

positive, both about his brewing

peers and the passion of the country’s

growing crowd of enthusiasts.

“Italy is a new exciting craft beer

world,” he says. “We are famous for

the quality of our food and wine, but

there’s no a large tradition in beer. In

under than 20 years, we’ve topped

1000 producers of craft beer in this

small country. It started with lager,

maybe some Belgian styles and English

until the boom of American IPAs. Now

brewers are trying to find the Italian

way to brew the best beer and create

our own Italian styles, such as Italian

Grape Ale, Italian Pils, Chestnut Ale,

sour beer.

“Craft beer is still a young

Italian passion and a small

part of the

overall beverage market, but now you

can find a lot of good craft beer bar

in any town, with lots of great local

beers. There’s also respect and care

for service here; publicans understand

and respect the right way of serving

a beer. So, it’s new culture, but it's a

good culture and it’s only going to get





hen I was about six, my mum

let me go into the grocers’ just

around the corner from our

house and buy myself a treat. Instead of

my usual Cadbury’s Fudge bar, I went

for a small bottle of luridly coloured

Panda Pop. What happened next is

slightly hazy, but my mum tells me I

basically began speaking in tongues

and the next thing I remember clearly

is crying into a bowl of fluorescent

vomit. While I quickly got over my

first foray into the world of sodas, I

was left with the lingering sense that

there was something fundamentally

unwholesome about sweet, fizzy water.

The idea of ‘craft’ soda has therefore

sat somewhat uneasily with me.

Nonetheless, these stubby bottles

and cans with their folksy, bucolic

artwork have become increasingly

difficult to ignore, their numbers

growing alongside those of low and

no-alcohol beers among a more

health-conscious public. A recent poll

by Dalston’s, one of the UK’s larger

WORDS: Richard Croasdale

craft soda producers, confirmed that

around 80% of respondents wanted

better non-alcoholic drink options

(which feels like the result of a

leading question, but hey). The same

poll suggests that, alongside more

interesting flavours, the appeal of

such sodas is very much values-based,

with respondents citing authenticity,

localism and environmental impact

playing a part in their buying choices.

Liam from Steep Soda in Manchester

agrees that the rise of craft soda is

closely tied to several wider trends in

food and drink.

The UK craft soda industry is

expanding all the time,” he says. “When

we set up, we were one of a handful of

producers in the whole country. Today

there’s is a lot more focus on ‘low and

no alcohol’ alternatives which, twinned

with the shift in focus to understand

the provenance of our food and drink,

has allowed businesses like our to


Like craft beer then, the definition

of craft soda has proven tricky to pin

down, and is at least partly about

meeting demand for a product that

feels authentic. Craft sodas definitely

tend to use real ingredients for flavour,

rather than synthetic approximations,

and many of the flavour combinations

are genuinely interesting; the sort of

things that could easily have ‘IPA’ after

them and clean up at IndyMan.

There are plenty of more ‘straightup’

sodas in the craft space too,

including lemonades, ginger beers

and colas. One of the best-established

craft brands in Europe is Germany’s

Fritz-Kola, which can now be found

pretty easily across the UK. While it’s

diversified into other sodas, Fritz’s core

Cola has far greater depth of flavour

than Coke, for example, and is less

cloyingly sweet. It’s a straight-up swap

for anyone who wants a bit of extra

quality and authenticity from a soft

drink they already know.

While many craft sodas do contain

as much sugar as their ‘big soda’ peers,

the category also encompasses a good

number of health-focused drinks –

even more if you take it to include

kombucha (see page 30). Indeed, it can

sometimes feel like a Venn diagram

for other hot health trends, with

ingredients like ginseng popping up,

claims of high antioxidants and even

CBD-infused sodas now hitting the


Tom Carroll of Green Monkey CBD

soda says: “We’ve seen the growth

in craft sodas and mixers; the choice

out there is far greater and far more

interesting than it ever was. We’re

now even breaking into the on-trade

market in greater depth. People are

always after the next trend and the

newest flavours, and the growth and

awareness surrounding CBD has meant

more people asking for CBD in their

drinks. We are constantly developing

new flavours and ideas to keep up with

customer demand.”

The more we’ve looked into this

area, the more it’s felt like the early

days of craft beer in the UK. Samples

started arriving in the post, wrapped in

newspaper and featuring slightly janky,

inkjet-printed labels. These producers

are genuinely trying to find something

new; some attempts we didn’t enjoy so

much, while others – like Roots Soda’s

excellent white grapefruit, hop and

clove soda – really surprised our jaded


And that’s exciting; to be one of

these young companies experimenting

with their style, collaborating freely

and not terrified of getting scourged on

Twitter for any tiny misstep.

“We think there is still a long way to

go to improve quality and process, but

we are looking forward to being at the

very front of something that is much

more beneficial to our customers than

the standard soft drinks,” concludes

Steep’s Liam. “Plus the scope for

collaboration is endless across food

and drink. It just feels like a really

fun place to be – there’s no end to the





ombucha has gone from an

unknown word – an eldritch

incantation spoken only at

Holland and Barrett – to one of the

UK’s most popular non-alcoholic drinks

in the space of a couple of years. The

fermented tea drink, believed but

not definitively known to have been

invented around 2000 years ago in

Chinese antiquity, is unusual in that

it has crossed over from health food

to high-street with relatively zero

friction. Of course, generally speaking

2000 years is a long time to build

your brand, but it’s the ravenous,

insatiable craft drinks industry that’s

pushed kombucha from being an

obscure homemade drink to a multimillion

pound industry quickly, and,

to the average consumer, seemingly

from nowhere. Western cultural

appropriation strikes again then?

Alimentary, my dear Watson

Kombucha has long been celebrated

for its health-giving properties.

Fermented foods and drinks are under

WORDS: Richard Croasdale

a dazzling spotlight at the moment,

with nutritionists all over the world

championing their gut-balancing,

immune system-boosting properties.

This is most likely from the lactic acid

bacteria that build up and live happily

within a batch of booch. These little

guys are part of the “probiotic” family,

the naturally occurring bacteria that

frolic in your bowel, helping with


If you believe in the role of

antioxidants, you might also be

interested to note that in live studies,

kombucha has been shown to reduce

liver toxicity by up to 70% (there are

several published sources online via

the NCBI – check it out, it’s pretty

interesting). So it may actually be the

ideal hangover cure too.

Sam Martingell, founder and CEO

of Kombucha Kat, a kombucha brand

based in the Cotswolds, believes in the

benefits of probiotics in his drinks.

“We work really hard to maintain the

probiotic and organic integrity of our

products,” he explains. “No one I know

drinks sugary sodas anymore, certainly

not like we used to in the ‘90s.

Personally, I think that all the sugar and

aspartame is now catching up with our

collective immune system. Having said

that, the whole experience of a fizzy

soft drink is uniquely and undeniably

refreshing. We’re trying to replicate

that without all the bad stuff.

“Also, and on another level, I think

that people are starting to understand

that the sterile paradigm that used

to exist around food and lifestyle is

redundant. Bugs aren’t all bad. We

need them. Killing them off will only

make us more sick. We should all be

rolling around in the mud with our


This sentiment is echoed by Louise

Avery of LA Brewery in Suffolk, whose

excellent Citrus Hops Kombucha is a

great gateway for beer lovers looking to

give the drink a shot.

"We now know that the closed

system of an overly sterile environment

has stripped us of our natural

immunities, leaving us exposed," she

says. "All our kombuchas are brewed

with my favoured speciality tea

blend and original mother culture.

The whole experience of

a fizzy soft drink is uniquely

and undeniably refreshing

Once sweetened, the tea continually

ferments with a portion drawn off and

replenished every three and a half


For some, however, it’s enough for

kombucha to just be a delicious drink

all on its own. David Begg, founder of

Real Kombucha in Wendover near the

Chilterns, sees its benefits in other

ways than as a health tonic.

“I loved wine, craft beer and whisky,

but I gave up drinking six years

ago,” he says. “A chef friend, who’s

teetotal himself, gave me a taste of

his homebrewed kombucha and I

just thought – I can’t believe this isn’t

alcoholic. It should be in every pub.

“For me, the taste of a great

kombucha is better than a fine

champagne. We look at creating our

kombucha as a fine fermented tea with

a wealth of complex, beautiful flavours,

not as a juice alternative, not as a

health drink.

“It’s not about a fad. There is a

desperate need for high quality no

alcohol alternatives, and I believe

kombuha is it.”

The popularity of lo/no fizz

As a nation, we’re drinking more nonalcoholic

drinks. According to drinks

industry publication the Morning

Advertiser, sales of alcohol-free beer

were up 28% at the start of 2019. It

looks like we’re increasingly enjoying

visiting pubs and bars without the need

to get smashed, and kombucha is fast

becoming a go-to alternative on the


“We’re available at fifty different

Michelin starred restaurants,” says

David. “It’s really encouraging to hear

that top sommeliers understand what

we’re doing. Essentially, we treat the





Real Kombucha is the brainchild

of founder, David Begg, a long-time

foodie who came to realise that

non-drinkers weren’t being catered

for at the dinner table in any serious,

sophisticated manner. He started

his own business in just 2016, after a

friend introduced him to an earthy,

rich, oolong kombucha. Putting

together a small team that included

nutrition innovator, Adrian Hodgson,

and tea expert, Will Battle, the

nascent company experimented with

150 different teas until he came up

with his ideal recipe.

Visit realkombucha.co.uk for more

about David’s process, kombucha

food pairing suggestions and

kombucha cocktails.

tea as you would the grapes you use to

make wine. We want to bring out the

flavours of each unique tea, from the

weird, wild and medicinal to the rich,

vanilla, rose and almond.”

Sam agrees that for him, kombucha

is the clear alternative to alcoholic

drinks. He makes his drinks based on

his own personal tastes, but consumer

trends have also led him to experiment

with a unique energy drink kombucha


“I started making kombucha solely

for my own health, not for commercial

reasons. I hadn’t tried what was on the

market because there wasn’t much on

offer and the brands that were didn’t

really appeal to me. I still don’t often

taste-test other brands. Run your own


The energy drink market is

dominated by some terrible products

and we frankly feel it is ripe for

disruption. Many people use energy

drinks for exercise. They use exercise

to be healthy. So there’s this huge,

glaring inconsistency in unhealthy

energy drinks.”

This disparity between healthy

living and unhealthy drinks is one of

the big draws kombucha has on the

high street, where it sits in chillers like

a cool older sibling next to smoothies

and pre-packed falafel wraps. Big

brands like Remedy and Go! play

on the idea that booch is inherently

healthy, or at least a healthier choice,

and gives you more oomph and at-em.

Some brands prefer the cool, craft

angle, like Holos, who’s bottle artwork

rivals any craft beer’s. But is that

what us beer drinkers care about?

Are we mostly looking at kombucha

as a healthy alternative to other

non-alcoholic drinks? Do we want

pro-biotics and detoxifying goodness

seeping through our veins? Or do we

want something that’s refreshing and

stops us from feeling left out at the

pub, and tastes awesome while we’re

doing it?

Kombucha is fast

becoming a go-to

alternative on the bar

In the context of a bar, it’s hard to

disagree with David’s assertions that

non-alcoholic alternatives are still

woefully inadequate. They’re getting

better every day. But for those who

don’t, or can’t, drink low-alcohol beer,

focusing some attention on alternative,

delicious, just-so-happen-to-befermented

drinks that can be created

with strong food-matching capabilities

is surely where it’s at. What with their

low-intervention methods so popular

in the natural wine and cider markets

now too, perhaps the ancients got

it right. When it came to inventing

beverages, when didn’t they, to be fair?



Kombucha Mama

WORDS: Katie Mather

ou should have told me you were

going to start making ‘booch,” said a

Yfriend of a friend when I mentioned

buying a SCOBY from the internet.

“You could have had some of mine.”

I found it strange they’d say this —

we’re not really close enough to chat

regularly, and I couldn’t see me opening

our first ever non-mutual-mediated

convo with “So, I’m thinking of buying a

living blob off the internet...”

My SCOBY, or Symbiotic Culture of

Bacteria and Yeast — snappy, I know

— arrived in a sealed baggy of its own

juices, like a sous-vide jellyfish. I held

it in my hands and tried not to feel

disgusted by it. Instructions, written in

a bright, encouraging manner, told me

how to care for this living membrane

and what I could do to essentially not

make it die.

I haven’t had a pet since 2012. That’s

seven petless years. Now here I am

with a bacterial splat gazing up at me

expectantly with its pale, faceless face.

“Don’t be daft,” says my husband. “It’s

not one faceless face. It’s millions of

faceless faces, all squashed together in

a big faceless mass.”

I’m not sure I want to open the

package. It seems happy enough in

there, swishing about in something

called “starter” like a behemoth scallop

in brine. I read the package again and

take a big, brave sigh. I can’t think of a

jar I own that will be big enough for the

SCOBY baby, so I swing my coat on and

head out to the shops to find something

suitable for a kombucha nursery.

Making kombucha seems easy

enough. It basically does all the work

for you. All you need to do is create the

perfect conditions for it to thrive. You

have to understand that with all my

projects, I absolutely mean well. I have

all the best intentions in the world.

Nobody has more enthusiasm than me

when it comes to getting things off the

ground. It’s keeping things ticking over

I have an issue with. So, after I made

up the sugary tea that would be my

SCOBY’s world and set it floating on

top, my fingerprints leaving unsettling

dints in its surface, the countdown until

my inevitable over-it-ness began.

Kombucha doesn’t need love and

attention; nevertheless I sat at my

desk every day for the first week with

it in my direct eyeline, watching for

anomalies. It doesn’t need an airlock

like homebrew (instead of being sealed,

my instructions told me to let the

bacteria-yeast soup “breathe” through a

double layer of gauze) so there’s nothing

to watch. No pleasing bubbling noises

to comfort me. No occasional need to

re-adjust anything. I’ll admit, I got bored

very quickly. My baby was a rubbery

white ice shelf floating on a dark ocean

of sugary tea.

After a week, I was supposed to test

it. I had imagined, when I bought the

SCOBY, that this would be an exciting

bookmark in my life. A moment I’d

cherish forever. Instead, I re-read

information on the internet about how

low pH has to be to deter botchellism

and talked myself out of wanting to

drink the thing that I had encouraged

to live.

Making kombucha seems

easy enough. It basically

does all the work for you.

“It’s fine!” said my husband,

extremely disappointed in my lack of

enthusiasm. He’d already tried it. “You

won’t get food poisoning.”

How does he always know that I’m

thinking about food poisoning?

I tried it. Hmm. Not bad! A little on

the plain and watery side. I decided to

leave it for a little while longer to ramp

up the sourness.

I’ll admit, after that I totally forgot

about it. Apart from the occasional

whiff of balsamic vinegar heading my

way I assume, to catch my attention, I

completely lost sight of my kombucha

plans. All those label designs, all the

flavour ideas — lost forever in the

rotavator of my hyperactive mind.

By the time I was guilt-tripped into

trying my kombucha again it was two

weeks later, the SCOBY had doubled

in thickness, and I swear it was feeling

more sulky towards me.

Now the batch tasted like malt

vinegar. I like malt vinegar. However

I didn’t see how it could be drank in

great quantities, and I felt terrible about

this. My poor SCOBY. I let it down. A

gap had opened in the side of the now

8cm thick SCOBY reef where it had

expanded like a wide, sad mouth. I

looked at it and tried to imagine all the

furiously feeding microbuddies inside.

They didn’t know they were making it

worse! That was my fault! I should have

been a better parent! I racked some of

the vinegar juice off, added more sugary

tea and tried again.

No matter how you feel about my

kombucha-making abilities after

reading the next bit, I want you to

promise you’ll never hold it against the

poor SCOBY that lives in the corner of

my kitchen. It is only doing its best.

The kombucha has now been

fermenting for a month. It is face

puckeringly sour. I’m considering letting

it continue to sour and sour and sour

until my SCOBY fills the whole jar and

I can tip it out in a neat, white cylinder

like a roll of egg tofu. My husband says

we should do right by the SCOBY and

start again. We should go and buy some

nice green tea and plan some recipes,

and bottle it in time, and make attempts

at carbonation. I think we will. I think

I’m ready this time.




WORDS: Hugh Thomas

PHOTOS: Graham Ó Síodhacháin

All Hail to the Ale

It’s early September and I’m at

the Faversham Hop Festival,

where the hop-picking season has

officially begun. An early part of

the schedule is about to commence at

St. Mary’s, where the vicar – who, 20

minutes prior, blessed a 6ft hop pocket

on the festival’s main stage – will lead

a service celebrating Faversham’s

historic ties with our favourite flower. I

am one of a congregation of about 40,

and among the youngest by about 20


Flicking through the hymn sheet and

programme, there’s predictably a lot

of ‘O Lord’s and ‘Amen’s. A line about

God judging fornicators reminds me

what kind of institution this is, while

another passage reads: “Almighty God,

we give you thanks for the goodness of

creation and the work of human hands.

We ask your blessing upon these

hops and upon those who use them to

make beer. Through food and drink

taken in moderation, we may share in

hospitality and celebration as we look

towards the great banquet of heaven.”

I can’t do it. This isn’t me. There is

no god. Fornicating’s great. Drinking

irresponsibly isn’t always bad either. If

leaving church before a service is sin,

then let Him smite away.

“We should start shortly,” a woman

calls after me as I was out the door.

Further down the road, a grey-bearded

associate catches up to me, somewhat

out of breath. “It’ll be a lovely service,”

he says. “We’ve the bishop visiting!”

Sorry folks, I’ve realised it would be

like every other church service of my

youth I tried, and mostly failed, to

dodge. Let’s not add to the tally.

A successful bunk this time, though

beer’s relationship with religion isn’t

always so easily dismissed. I mean,

within cultures with an affiliation to

Christianity – most other faiths forbid

or disapprove of alcohol consumption.

For Christians, it’s part of the deal.

Down the road in Canterbury, hop

harvest celebrations involve the 66th

Hop Hoodening ceremony, culminating

with a service at the famous cathedral.

I can’t do it. This isn’t me.

There is no god.

Fornicating’s great.

Hop hoodening amounts to a hybrid

of two Kentish traditions: hoodening,

where someone’s shrouded under a

sackcloth usually resembling a horse,

and hops, first grown in this county

(just outside Canterbury in fact) in

1520. The result is a Hop Queen, which

in simple terms is a lady wearing

an enormous hop hat. Hop-related

festivities, don’t you know, can only

begin with the right headwear.

Across The Channel, Belgians also

indulge in less-than-usual traditions.

To honour Saint Arnold, the Catholic





Church’s patron saint of hop pickers

and Belgian brewers, priests bless a

small cask of beer as The Knighthood

of the Brewers’ Paddle look on. The

Knighthood is a collection of red

and black-garbed individuals who’ve

significantly contributed to the

brewing industry, with Frank Boon, the

man behind probably Belgium’s most

famous geuze producer Boon, at the


Traditions such as these often go

back thousands of years. Some even

to first human civilisation. As the

Sumerian daughter of the goddess of

procreation, for instance, Ninkasi was

(naturally?) assumed to be the deity

responsible for beer. Like with many

other things we can now attribute

to science, divine power explained

why processes such as fermentation –

which were not then quite understood

– occurred.

Much more recently, though still

from a thousand-odd years ago, we

have those monastery men and their

‘liquid bread’ that saw them through

their Lenten fasts. Especially the

Trappist variety, responsible for some

of the planet’s favourite beers – Orval,

Rochefort, St. Bernardus, and so on.

Need we mention Westvleteren?

Before recently launching their

overdue online ordering service,

abbey monks would sometimes

receive 85,000 calls an hour for their

Westvleteren 12.

And who can frown on that?

Capitalistic tendencies have yet to

encroach on Trappist monks’ business.

Given it’s carried out in a way that

benefits the monastic and local

community, and where profits are put

back into brewing and charity work,

even the most secular among us can

admit it’s a noble way to spend your


In short, is there a group with a

greater influence on the quality of

Hop-related festivities

can only begin with the

right headwear.

beer as we know it today? How many

breweries do we know and love that

are inspired by monks, Trappist or

otherwise, and their work? Broadly

speaking, the industry owes a lot

to monasteries and churches. As

early as the 9th century, Christian

clergy brewed for their communities,

later introducing techniques such

as lagering and the use of hops to

settlements outside of their own. In

the 15th century, it was likely Flemish

Benedictine monks who convinced

Britons to hop their ales.

With secularism on the up, does God

or any of the other gods have much

influence on beer these days? You’d

be surprised. In the US Bible Belt – a

group of southeast states, Tennessee

and Alabama among the most devout

and conservative – churches are still

segregated, with blacks attending

one church, and whites another. Yet

it is down at the local Christian-run

brewery taprooms, such as those of

Reformation and Black Cloister, where

all congregations are seen together. “I

often tell churches,” Black Cloister’s

pastor-cum-brewer says to craftbeer.

com, “you can learn a lot about how to

do community from a brewpub”.

You heard it here first: while I was

raised on Harvey’s, it was an abbey

beer (albeit a commercialised one)

that truly won me over to the drink. Of

Belgian beers, especially the Trappist

and Trappist-inspired ones, many

other drinkers say similar. So, any

reverence to God notwithstanding,

and even without much need to visit a

church ever again, I reckon we can all

say: Thank God for beer.




La dolça vida

PHOTOS: Zsolt Stefkovics

Catalonia has long been

celebrated for the warmth

and hospitality of its people

and the quality of its food, but today

it’s increasingly on the radar for

its burgeoning craft beer scene. In

market previously dominated by

macro-brewed golden lager – served

cold, consumed quickly and costing

next to nothing – the thirst for quality

craft beer has allowed a first wave

of new brewers to hit the ground


Edge Brewing is one of the more

established craft players in Barcelona,

founded in 2013. Unsurprisingly,

as it was founded by Americans,

it has taken a lead squarely from

the US scene, with predominantly

hop-forward beers showcasing New

World hops and clean American yeast

profiles. Its taproom is a wonderfully

convivial space, in which the US-style

beer matches with typical Catalonian


A name perhaps more familiar

to UK drinkers, Garage is already

making somewhat of a splash in the

beer community, particularly with

its stand-out cans. Very much a

purveyor to the ‘haze craze’ crowd,

its Soup IPA is lauded everywhere

it reaches. Garage’s bar in the city

has all the atmosphere of a cuttingedge

brewery tap, and is a must-stop

for even casual beer tourists to the

regional capital.

While individual examples are

plentiful, if anything here proves the

enthusiasm with which craft beer is

being embraced, it is undoubtedly

the Barcelona Beer Festival.

Established in 2013, the festival has

been pushing the boundaries for

artisan-produced beer in the region

since its inception.

Hoards of drinkers descend on

the venue in the city’s La Farga de

L’Hospitalet on the weekend to enjoy

brews from near and far. Brewers

themselves are on hand and eager

to chat as their beers poured, with

humility and clear excitement. In

fact, excitement and novelty seem to

permeate the atmosphere; despite

being a longstanding event, there is

a strong feeling that everyone here is

revelling in this burgeoning cultural


I must include some highlights;

although we sadly did not visit any

of these breweries, the quality of

the beer is definitely worthy of

attention on a world stage. First

up, Soma Brewing, whose New

England style hazy IPAs have topped

Spain’s Untappd chart. Both the

Pyramid and Combo were delicious,

forward-thinking beers. A recent

collaboration with Garage Brewing

(also hot property right now) dubbed

The festival has been

pushing the boundaries

for artisan-produced beer

‘Montessori’ was a definite winner

in the low-bitterness, big aroma, socalled

‘juice-bomb’ stakes.

I also enjoy the beer from Cervesa

Marina, hailing from Blanès.

Longstanding figures on the Catalan

beer scene, their history has seen

collaborations with Steel City and La

Pirata. Top of the list was Sour Skull,

an 8% Black IPA aged for a year in

French wine barrels with additional

Brettanomyces; not in any way

subtle, but hugely complex with lots

of tannins and rich wood character

while also maintaining a pleasantly

fulsome body. Notable mentions also

go to Guineu, Laugar and Cyclic Beer

Farm, all of whom had some delicious

beers on show.

I have encountered a host of

different approaches to beer here

in Catalonia, yet one thing shared

by everyone I have met is an ardour

and devotion to their craft that is

palpable, coupled with a joyous

affection for their homeland. For a

people who love to consume food

and drink and demand the utmost in

quality, Catalonia is on the cusp of

huge progress in European beer.



hops of home

Anthony Gladman asks whether the fortunes of

Britain’s hop harvest may finally be looking up

The tap root on a hop plant can

delve four metres into the ground

looking for water. At its deepest

that would be one metre of root for

every generation of the Hukins family

that has worked the land on Haffenden

Farm in Kent growing hops.

But for a long time Ross Hukins,

the current owner, thought he’d do

anything other than follow in his

father’s footsteps. The story of hop

growing in Britain was, for decades, a

story of decline, and Ross’s father was

no exception. “He lost money on hops

every year for 40 years. He only carried

on because he loved them, he never

made money out of them,” says Ross.

British brewing has been reborn over

the past decade, but the new breed

of brewers and drinkers that emerged

have had their heads turned by hops

not from Kent or Hereford but from

America and New Zealand. So, is there

a place for British hops in our own craft

beer revolution?

It’s harvest time in the Weald of Kent.

I’ve come to Haffenden Farm, home of

Hukins Hops, to see for myself how the

hops are grown and taken in from the

fields. With me are Ross Hukins, Greg

Hobbs, head brewer from Five Points

Brewing Co., and a few others. There is




a constant thrum of activity in the air.

The clank and whir of the hop picking

machine we passed at the top of the

hill a short while ago is a constant


A small red tractor pulls up beside us

on the narrow leafy lane. It is open to

the elements and covered in mud — a

simple, working machine. The woman

perched in its driving seat wears aviator

shades. We clamber onto the trailer

behind her and hang on to whatever

we can. The tractor gives a throaty

grunt and we jolt off down the hill.

Before long we turn into a hop garden

and bounce past row after neat row of

trellised bines climbing up towards the

sun. We pass into another garden half

harvested already, where a small group

of men at the far end are working on

another row.

A figure in blue dungarees walks a

few metres ahead, cutting and pulling

at the bottom of the bines. Behind him

the others follow, one held aloft in a

metal basket. He cuts the tops and his

colleagues collect the bines and lay

them into a trailer like the one in which

we are riding. They try to lay them flat

and straight, so they’re easier to get

out again later on. The trailer is almost

full. When it is time, the tractor driver

will race back the way we’ve just come

to deliver the cut bines to the men

who feed the hop picking machine’s

mechanical maw. The woman with

the red tractor will take his place, her

trailer emptied of its human cargo, and

the picking will go on without a pause.

There’s no time to rest until the harvest

is over.

Paul Corbett, managing director at

hop merchants Charles Faram, says

70% to 80% of the hops grown in the

UK are used right here, mostly by

regional breweries in traditional recipes

for best bitters, milds and stouts. But

that only makes up half of the hops

used by British brewers; the remainder

are imported.

“In cask, in regional beers, the role of

traditional varieties is very understood,”

says Hukins. He wants to encourage

craft brewers, most of whom still use

mainly American varieties, to try

brewing more traditional beer styles.

There are lots of breweries who do

not buy any British hops at all,” he

says. “They don't make any traditional

types of beer at all. But they are slowly

changing their mindsets and making

more different styles of beer. So it's a

real opportunity for British growers to

get in front of.”

Five Points Brewing Co is just one

example. The pints of its Best that we

sink in the Pembury Tavern, back in

London, later that day showcase what

can be achieved by modern brewers

using British hops. The beer is light,

fresh and easy-drinking, with a minty

white-pepper edge and clean crisp

bitterness. It is at once familiar and

new, and so good I finish my first pint

with almost alarming speed. “The

product and the passion translate into

the beer,” Hobbs tells me. “One of the

reasons our Best has gone down so well

is the modern Fuggles in it, and we're

using a lot of them.”

The area of land used for cultivating

hops in Britain fell from 29,000

hectares at its peak to just 950 hectares

today. The number of growers has also

shrunk. There are about 50 today;

Hukins thinks it may drop to 30 or so,

as some growers don’t have anyone to

pass their farms on to when they retire.

The product and

the passion translate

into the beer

But at last the long decades of decline

have bottomed out. The area under

cultivation has been steady for the last

few years. Those growers who remain

stand ready take up the slack when

the last few bow out. There is a new

optimism among British hop farmers.

Many are spending heavily to secure a

future for their businesses.

“I’ve remortgaged myself for the rest

of my life to commit to the farm with

a level of investment my dad couldn't

ever make,” says Hukins. He’s building a

huge facility to pick, dry and process his

hops. At its heart will be a new machine.

Well, new to Hukins anyway. “We’re in

the process of renovating the greatest

British hop machine that was ever built.

It’s quite nerdy. It’s called the Bruff

Super E. It’s a 1960s machine.”

Hukins has chosen this vintage

machine for the same reason he uses

vintage tractors during harvest. When

(not if) they break down, his workers

can fix them at the side of the road

within a matter of minutes. Repairing

modern, computerised machines means

calling out a specialist engineer, which

can take days. Hukins doesn’t have days

to spare during harvest.

“We decided to invest heavily. We

bought this old machine from a retired

grower. We’re sandblasting it, painting

it and refurbishing it. We’re basically

bringing it back to its former glory.”

This vintage machine has another




Traditional Maltsters

advantage over more modern German

or American machines. It is built to

handle British hops and their own

unique peculiarities. The UK grows just

1.5% of all hops produced globally, and

yet we punch above our weight when

it comes to the different varieties that

flourish here. “I think it was about 22

at the last count,” says Corbett. “We

grow a lot of varieties for a country

that is relatively small, and we have a

lot of varieties that are unique to this


Charles Faram is one of two

organisations developing new hop

varieties in the UK. (The other is the

British Hop Association.) “The UK has

been a big producer of new varieties

and it is constantly innovating with the

flavours and aromas that it's able to

achieve,” says Corbett. In the past these

breeding and selection programmes

have produced varieties like Archer,

Minstrel, Jester and Olicana. The three

latest from Charles Faram are called

Mystic, Harlequin and Godiva.

“What we're finding now is we're

getting some very interesting results

from our selections,” continues Corbett.

“Every year we get about a 5% increase

in aroma, so by crossing the plants again

and again, and it tends to be interfamily

It’s the right time to

be in hops, if you can

afford to invest in it

as well which sounds quite wrong, but

by breeding them within the family they

tend to throw out some of the crosses

which have more of these intense

flavours, and we're finding that every

year we go on we're getting this step up

in aroma.”

Harlequin is a step up from Jester

and Olicana, and there are new

experimental hops that are also a step

up from Harlequin. “The exciting bit

for me is that I firmly believe we can

grow more aromatic hops in Britain to

compete with some of the hops that are

grown around the rest of the world,“

says Corbett. “In another five, 10 years’

time there will definitely be more

intensity of flavour.”

A few weeks after my trip to

Haffenden Farm I am back at the

Pembury Tavern. They’re serving green

hop beers brewed with the hops I saw

being picked. “It’s the right time to be

in hops, if you can afford to invest in it,”

Hukins had told me then. “I think it’s got

a real future.”

Today I’m here to taste that future.

One of the green hop beers has

familiar flavours of white pepper and

mint, gentle earthy spice backed up

by a grassy bitter edge. This is Fuggle,

a quintessentially British hop. The

others – hopped with Ernest and

Bullion, new British aroma varieties

grown by Hukins – offer flavours from

a different palette. One is highly

aromatic with citrus and blackcurrant

leaping out of the glass. One is softly

fruity, with peach and apricot over a

fresh grapefruit bitterness. If this is

the future of British hops, then I’m

definitely on board.

Contact us now

for all your Malt Enquiries


Tel: 01985 212014


39 Pound Street, Warminster,

Wiltshire. BA12 8NN




Beer of





Beer of





Beer of



The maltings is under new management,

but our destiny is still the same – to go on producing

the finest malt that money can buy.”


The Only Maltings

in the West

Managing Director



The Best Barleys

in the UK




on Film

Eoghan Walsh grabs a jumbo bucket of popcorn

and settles in for some great beer films

Sheffield is an unlikely place to

inspire a globetrotting beer

documentary. Its most famous

screen appearance was probably two

decades ago when its crumbling steel

industry served as a backdrop to The

Full Monty. But Sheffield is also home

to the annual Sheffield International

Documentary Festival, and it was

during the festival that Belgian film

producer Maarten Schmidt sought

refuge at the Rutland Arms pub with

his director friend Fritz Moser.

For a traditional English pub – carpet

floors, handpumps and wooden fixtures

– the two men were impressed by the

diverse range of beers on offer and by

the skill and passion of the barmen.

Happy to have escaped the festival,

their talk inevitably turned back to

work when Moser turned to Schmidt

and said: “If people are so passionate

about beer, maybe we could make a

film about beer!” Two years later, that

film – Beer! – is about to be released,

and it turns out that they weren’t the

only ones to cotton on to a gap in the


In August 2019 Netflix ordered a

comedy series called Brews Brothers,

about two brothers running a brewery.

The world’s largest brewery, AB InBev

were involved with an Amazon Prime

documentary following one of their

subsidiary brewers attempting to pass

their Master Cicerone exam. And

in Schmidt’s own backyard, another

camera crew has been traversing the

Sheffield Doc/Fest

Belgian countryside to capture the

magic of the country’s lambic traditions

for an upcoming feature-length

documentary. Beer is suddenly big on

the silver screen.

Having had their light bulb moment

in Sheffield, Schmidt and Moser didn’t

dive straight into filming. First, some

research was in order. “I watched a lot

of films,” says Schmidt. “I could divide

them into two categories. Either they

were about start-ups, young brewers or

amateur brewers. Or a second category

sponsored or paid for by the big beer

brands.” Schmidt was convinced they

could do better, but he needed a

hook. He found it while sharing a beer

with a local Belgian beer sommelier:

Beer! would be about the fight for

independent beer in Europe and the

USA in 2019. “[Our idea was,] if we

can get some nice traditional stories

from Europe, and interesting stories

from the US…we could be able to tell

something that hasn’t been told in

those other films,” Schmidt says.

They needed a protagonist, someone

to guide them through this world,

someone at the beginning of their

brewing story. “We needed someone

with a challenge ahead. Someone

who hasn’t accomplished everything

already,” says Schmidt. And they found




Peter Bouckaert

him at Bierol, a brewery from Moser’s

home region, the Austrian Tyrol.

Moser came across Bierol while

back in Vienna and was, Schmidt says,

flabbergasted. Someone was making

US-style, flavour-forward beers in

Austria? And not only that, but up

in the mountains? Moser had to go

to Bierol’s brewery in the town of

Schwoich and meet the brewer behind

these beers. Christoph Bichler was

brought on-board, and Beer! follows

Bichler in his work at the brewery

and as he travels from Austria to Italy,

and on to Fort Collins in the USA to

meet with legendary brewer Peter


Bouckaert – formerly of Belgian

brewery Rodenbach, Colorado’s New

Belgium Brewing, and now at his own

project Purpose Brewing and Cellars

– is the wise old head to youthful

Bichler. He’s one of several secondary

characters whose own stories weave in

and out of the film’s narrative – Steve

Hindy of Brooklyn Brewing, Rudi

Ghekiere of Rodenbach, Paul Jones

from Manchester’s Cloudwater, and

Frank Boon of the eponymous lambic

brewery – and given their perspectives

on the changes in brewing on both

sides of the Atlantic has undergone

in the last thirty years. “Peter was the

perfect connection between Europe

and the US,” says Schmidt, who

described him as a true artist.

What has resulted is a snapshot of

beer in 2019, how and why the industry

looks like it does today. From that first

Sheffield conversation to a final cut

took them roughly two years – shorter

than the four years it normally takes

Schmidt to produce a documentary.

He’s a beer lover, so it was an easy

film to research, and what’s more,

his interviewees found it perfectly

logical that a Belgian would be putting

together a film about beer. While

Schmidt was jet setting around the

world, charming the great and good

of the international craft beer scene,

back in Belgium, the crew of Bottle

Conditioned were busy peeling back

the layers of mystique that surrounds

the country’s lambic breweries. The

crew behind it had their beer epiphany

not in a south Yorkshire boozer but

in the living room of one of Belgium’s

most famous brewing families.

Director Jerry Franck and

cinematographer Mario Contini were

filming for Bottle Conditioned when

they arranged to visit Jean-Pierre

Van Roy and his wife at their home

in Brussels. Van Roy almost singlehandedly

saved lambic brewery

Brasserie Cantillon – and Brussels’

lambic heritage – from extinction

when he transformed the brewery

into a living museum in the mid-1970s,

before his son Jean took over in 2003.

Franck’s first experience of gueuze

was a bottle of 2011 Cantillon drunk in

his hometown of Los Angeles. It had

him hooked on these idiosyncratic

beers, and now, there he was sitting

in the living room of the man who had

a significant role to play in making it,

eating apricot jam over breakfast.

Still from Bottle Conditioned

Van Roy almost singlehandedly

saved Brussels’

lambic heritage

This was when the penny dropped

about what kind of film they were

– or should be – making. “When we

got a chance to sit with them,” says

Contini, “it made me realise that

this is such a strong story, there is

hundreds of years of tradition. It was

kind of beautiful to see that they

were still so passionate about it.”

The Van Roy story, of flirting with

annihilation only to survive and go

on to then-unimaginable success, was

for Franck emblematic of the 20th

century journey of lambic brewers.

“Everybody took a different path…

Lindemans went one way, Cantillon

another. Out of everyone we had

access to, I think Jean’s parents are

the living proof of that,” Franck says.

Franck chose Jean Van Roy’s as

one of the four main characters of

their documentary, alongside Pierre

Tilquin of Tilquin, Armand Debelder

of 3 Fonteinen, and Raf Soef of the

blendery known provisionally as




Bokke. Each of these represent an

aspect of lambic’s past, present and

future, and the final film will follow

them through the four seasons of

running a lambic brewery. It’s not the

film they thought they were going to

make when Franck, Contini and their

producer Courtney Marsh visited

Belgium in May 2018 on a holiday-cumscouting

trip. “We knew we wanted to

make a doc about Belgian beer,” says

Franck. “Then you realise Belgian beer

is so vast, and how could you make a

documentary about that.”

Then you realise Belgian

beer is so vast, and

how could you make a

documentary about that

Instead he looked for a niche within

Belgian beer, and settled on lambic. “I

thought, this is something that could

really connect to people beyond beer…

to people who might be interested in

wine, sustainable farming, etc.,” Franck

says. “Lambic is the only style that

can open up that [audience].” Franck’s

research brought him back to Belgium

in September 2018 for a first proper

trip, and him and Contini returned

in January 2019 for their first stint of

filming. They made what they expect

to be their final trip to Belgium – saving

any glaring plot holes that emerge

during editing – in late-September 2019

to catch Cantillon’s annual Zwanze


In planning their respective

documentaries, both crews found

that filmmakers neglected beer –

particularly in comparison to their

coverage of wine. There was no

equivalent of the successful Somm

series of wine documentaries, or even

something comparable to Alexander

Payne’s Oscar-winning film Sideways.

Schmidt has his theories why. “The

storytelling is much better in the wine

business,” he says, adding that craft

beer doesn’t have the historical or

heritage caché of multi-generation

winemakers. Schmidt inevitably took

his queues from the wine world.

“I ended up watching a lot of wine

documentaries,” he says, “and I thought

if we can show people that beer as a

beverage is a different experience than

you might think it is, then we have


Viewers will be able to find out soon

if he and Moser have succeeded; Beer!

is set for launch in Brussels in late-

November, with a two-day mini-festival

screening alongside panel discussions

with Brussels brewers. Schmidt will

then take it to Bouckaert’s Fort Collins

in Colorado, and ideally on to a wider

release. Lambic obsessives eagerly

anticipating Bottle Conditioned have

to wait a little longer. Once filming is

completed in late-2019, they will enter

editing mode, piecing together the

hundreds of hours of footage they have

into a coherent narrative.

Their plan is to finish editing in

the summer of 2020, and launch it

at a film festival towards the end of

that year or early in 2021. A decentsized

festival should help them find

a distributor that can act as, Franck

hopes, “a launching pad to a wider

audience. I don’t want to make movies

for a small crowd. I want to get as

many people to see it as possible. The

last movie took eight years to make,

but hopefully not this one!”






This month, Ollie Peart opens

up about his mental health,

and asks why his experience

has become so common

I’m depressed. Proper fullon

stuff-pills-in-ya-gob to

chemically realign your brain,

depressed. Boo-hoo for me.

Being told I was depressed came

as a bit of shock, which I suppose

happens to everyone who is told

they are depressed. Because if you

are depressed, you don’t really know

you’re depressed. You just think

you’re normal and everyone else is

a cunt.

This is not true, of course.

People are lovely for the most part.

Depression is an expert at seeping

deep into your consciousness and

manipulating your behaviour and

mindset. At first it’s small things,

barely noticeable. You might get

angry at something relatively minor,

have the odd sulk or say no to going

out in favour of staring at a screen

while drinking too much. But then it

builds. You hate being around people

you love, you get angry at everything

and you descend into a seemingly

endless cycle of self-loathing until -

there it is - you’re ready to end it all

as a way out.

It’s horrible. Even with treatment

it constantly gnaws at you. You learn

to live with it, so I’ve been told. But

why are so many people, all over the

world, depressed? A quick swipe

through Twitter showcases a barrage

of gushing ‘Today has been a bad

day’ tweets with an ensemble of

attention seeking emoji’s dangling

like bait. Sympathisers offer likes and

supportive messages that provide a

smidge of comfort to the poster that

vanishes faster than a Higgs boson.

The tweeting and sharing of it all

has come about because we have

been encouraged to talk about our

mental health. This is a good thing.

But sharing stories of depression and

other mental health conditions online

will never fix the problem. There is

something far more profound going

on. We all feel lost, disengaged and

disconnected. Why?

I habitually probe at thoughts like

this. I fail to accept humans have

been depressed on this scale at any

point throughout history and I think

I know why. Ignorance. Religious

ideologies were the perfect tool to

provide meaning and connection

in a world that seemingly favours

death and destruction. If you were

alive during the bubonic plague you

probably thought ‘well, at least God

has my back - see you in the afterlife’.

You were part of a much bigger

picture, true or not, you accepted it

as real. It was powerful stuff.

Today though, religion has lost its

edge and society is being torn up

like the rotting corpse of a hunted

deer. It began in the ‘80s where the

idea that happiness and meaning

could come from a higher power was

tossed aside in favour buying shit.

We were sold happiness in shampoo

bottles, packets of crisps, cars and

microwaves. Laptops, tablets and

phones offer endless flickering

happiness 24 hours a day, seven days

a week. Noise cancelling headphones

provide the blockade to shut out

your shitty reality.

Pay close attention to the iPhone

11 Pro advert ‘It’s tough out there’.

One of the phones is placed in a

wind tunnel and a barrage of modern

day bollocks is hurtled straight at

the phone. Kids toys, food, clothes,

rubber ducks and a wedding cake.

Illustrations of modern day societal

pressures that tug on us to conform.

‘Have a baby, get married, get a job,

eat good food’. Fuck off.

The advert presents the iPhone

as an antidote to this bullshit. Your

chum in shitty and demanding times.

Kids playing up? Just whip out your

iPhone 11 Pro. Shit day at work? Whip

out your iPhone 11 Pro. Eating lunch

on your own? Whip out your iPhone

11 Pro.

And THIS is the problem. We think

having these things in our life can

somehow cure our ills, be our chum

in tough times and make us happy.


devices perpetuate the problem. Kids

playing up? Whip out your iPhone 11

Pro and snap a nice smiley picture

of your kid to put on Instagram with

the hashtag #ParentLife regardless

of how shit you’re feeling. Shit day at

work? Whip out your iPhone 11 Pro

and snap a picture of your swanky

as fuck office that houses the tech

company you work for even though

they overwork and underpay you,

and actually you really hate your

boss, but still, working for them

sounds cool when I talk to my friends

so #SoBusy.

We’ve been sold a lie. A lie that

continues to be peddled today.

Thankfully, we are beginning to

realise the problem. We have seen

how this approach has literally

raped our planet, and we are angry

and upset about it. Good. Because

the planet is YOU. We think we are

aliens from another world, individuals

dumped here who have to fight, win

and succeed. Bollocks. I mean really,

if you think LinkedIn is all there is in

the world you need to burn those

pinstripes and get a life.

You’ve been disconnected from

reality for so long you feel lost and

disconnected. And guess what, so

do I.

It’s time to do something

about it.





WORDS: Eoghan Walsh

Emily Sauter

Fits of tears the night before an

exam are not unusual. That this

crisis of confidence came about

through the inability to differentiate

between different beer styles is less

common. “I was trying to do a blind

tasting between a saison, a tripel,

and a Belgian golden strong ale,” says

Natalya Watson, an independent beer

educator based in London. “And I

could not for the life of me tell the

difference and I just sat there and

cried.“ The exam causing Watson’s

anxiety was the Certified Cicerone

beer certification programme. Watson

is one of a number of women working

in beer attracted to programmes like

Cicerone because of their interest

in beer and their fascination with

learning. It is also a way to have their

expertise validated in an industry that

still echoes to the hum of out-dated


The Cicerone programme was

founded by craft beer veteran Ray

Daniels in Chicago in 2008 to

recognise “significant knowledge and

professional skills in beer sales and

service.” From its American origins, it

has become increasingly popular with

people working in beer around the

world, as London-based Watson attests.

It’s not the only beer certification

programme out there – in the UK there

is also The Beer and Cider Academy’s

Beer Sommelier programme. What sets

Cicerone apart, Watson suggests, is its

international recognition – something

that the Cicerone organisers have

actively pushed, adapting their syllabi

and exams to local markets. “We’ve

tried as much as we can to make the

programme as relevant as possible for

each of the countries it’s being used

in,” says Pat Fahey, Cicerone’s Content

Director. “The UK syllabus has for

example a lot of focus on cask beer as

you might imagine.”

Step-by-step knowledge

The Cicerone process comprises four

levels of increased difficulty – Certified

Beer Server, Certified Cicerone,

Advanced, and finally Master Cicerone

(there are only 18 Masters – three

of which are women). Knowledge is

tested in five categories: keeping and

serving beer, beer styles, beer flavour

and evaluation, beer ingredients and

brewing processes, and beer and

food pairing. “The levels all cover

a similar body of knowledge,” says

Fahey, but the depth of knowledge

For the Masters, I can count

on one hand how many

people have passed first time

increases greatly with each step up.”

For Certified Beer Server for example,

which is an online multiple-choice

test, someone with a reasonable

knowledge of beer and the industry

should pass. However, for the four-hour

in-person Certified Cicerone exam

that includes a tasting panel, multiplechoice

questions and short essay-style

questions, Fahey says they recommend

around 100 hours of study before

attempting it.

The Advanced Cicerone exam

requires another major leap into

detailed beer knowledge. “It’s very,

very difficult to pass the advanced,”

says Emily Sauter, author, illustrator of

Ray Daniels

the Pints and Panels web comic, beer

educator and Advanced Cicerone,

of the eight-hour exam. Sauter is

one of only 121 Advanced Cicerones

worldwide, and she is now preparing

to take the Masters exam for the

second time. Over a two-day exam

held in Chicago, she will be tested to

an extremely high level of detail on

all aspects of beer. “For the Masters,

I can count on one hand how many

people have passed first time,” Sauter

says, adding that she went into her first

Master Cicerone exam not expecting to

pass but to see what it was like before

repeating it, better prepared for the

psychological toll.




BrewDog's Dan, Kegan and Liala with their cerificates

The benefits of

working in a brewery

Working for a brewery certainly helps

prospective Cicerones. Sauter worked

at US brewery Two Roads while

preparing for her Certified exam, and

Watson was working as the marketing

manager for Duvel in the UK. “They

gave me time to study, and paid for

half the cost of the exam, which was

wonderful,” Watson says.

Alternatively, you could get a job

with Brewdog, who require all their

staff to pass the Certified Beer Server

level within three or four months of

starting with the company. Robyn Reid

– an Advanced Cicerone herself and

preparing to sit her Master exam – is

responsible for shepherding Brewdog

staff through their Cicerone training, and

the company now has 40 female staff

who have reached Certified Cicerone

level, out of a total of around 120.

“We definitely want everyone to

focus on passing the Certified Beer

Server,” Reid says. “It just gives

everyone the confidence to know

what they’re talking about, and enjoy

talking about beer with customers

and not be daunted by it.” Reid runs

regular training camps for Brewdog

staff, holding exams twice a year at

Brewdog headquarters in Scotland.

Of course, you don’t need to work

at a brewery. The syllabus and

recommended reading are available on

the Cicerone website, and Cicerone

offer scholarships to members of the

Pink Boots Society to cover the costs

of applying (currently only in the US,

but likely to expand to the UK in the


The further you go in the Cicerone

process, the more and more time

you will have to spend studying. In

preparation for her Master Cicerone

exam in October 2019, Sauter studied

for 830 hours over 18 months. She’s

even taken to watching US cooking

How to become a Cicerone

- five tips and tricks -

“Definitely make sure you’re really

interested, it’s a big time commitment!”

– Robyn Reid

“Start with the book Tasting Beer from

Randy Mosher. It covers everything that’s

on the assessment, in a really friendly way.”

– Natalya Watson

“Going to a shitty brewery is really helpful

– a way to try the off-flavours that doesn’t

cost a lot.”

– Emily Sauter

show Top Chef to brush up her

culinary knowledge for the beer and

food pairing section of the exam.

They’re very particular in the Master

about cooking techniques,” Sauter says.

They don’t want you to [just suggest]

seared salmon. They want to know how

was it cooked, what it looks like, what

did the sear do to the flavour. If you

watch an accomplished chef put out

these dishes, it’s very informative…I’ve

learned a lot from watching Top Chef.”

Advancing to Advanced

With enough mental exhaustion and

emotional drama to rival an episode

of Top Chef, and a high failure rate,

why do people put themselves through

The further you go in the

Cicerone process, the more

and more time you will have

to spend studying

it? Because alongside the emotional

weight are moments of pure elation.

When Sauter got the email telling

her she’d passed her Advanced exam

(she expected to fail), she flung her

computer across her bedroom and

screamed so loud that she startled

her husband in another room. “Even

though I was sick, I had a cold!” she

“I always recommend that people get the

BJCP app on their phone, you can…look at

the style of beer you’re drinking on the app,

get to know the words used to describe it,

and have that bank of descriptors in your


– Watson

“Drink a lot of beer. Go to your local

craft bar. Not even just for the exam, if

you’re working in beer you should want to

immerse yourself in different beer styles.”

– Abby Scott

laughs. “It scared the shit out of my

husband…he thought something

terrible had happened!”

For others, it was about career

advancement. Abby Scott, special

projects officer at Brewdog, attributes

in part her getting taken on to support

Brewdog’s co-founder James Watt to

his recognition of her high marks in the

Certified Cicerone exam. Asa Stone,

a lecturer in a New Mexico university,

progressed from Certified Beer Server

to Certified and now Advanced in

order to demonstrate to her college

employer that she had the skills to

work as a beer educator. “I thought,

if I become a level 3 [Advanced

Cicerone], I can actually demonstrate




that I know beer as much as a qualified

instructor,” Stone says. She is now the

only Advanced Cicerone in the state,

an instructor in brewing and beverage

management and coach to aspiring


Then there is the issue of having

the confidence to get their knowledge

recognised in a traditionally male

dominated industry. “I find a lot of

men in the UK and Europe who seem

to be quite well-known in the beer

industry do not have any certification,

but most of the women who are wellknown

do,” Watson says. “Because it

is traditionally more male dominated,

[it was important] for me to be able to

say, ‘I’ve held myself to a standard, I

know what I know, and these people

have tested me on it and I can go and

speak about it confidently.’”

“Pushing me to prove

them wrong”

The industry is changing, and Watson,

Sauter, and Scott all say they have

not experienced outright misogyny

while working in beer. Others have

been less fortunate, and getting a beer

qualification is one way to push back

against this. Gina Nicholls, another

graduate of Reid’s training programme

and now Brewdog’s regional sales

manager for west London says that

in her work “you get quite a lot of

people that are a bit confused about

why you work at beer… They tend to

think that men know more about it

than women, and tend to be a bit sort

of derogatory about it. But actually

that tends to push me to try and prove

them wrong.” Nicholls is now working

to pass her Certified exam at the

second go.

Whatever the reasons behind

their decision to enrol in a beer

certification programme, many of

these women are just passionate about

beer, passionate about increasing their

knowledge about beer, possessing an

intrinsic desire to master their subject.

And, as Watson says, it’s important to

remember this during a challenging

process. “It’s also good to remember

that, yeah, this is something we’re

studying for the love of it and that

we’re passionate about it,” Watson

says. “Even if you cry the night before

the exam you can still love what

you’re doing!”

Abby Scott







41 St Andrews Street, NR2 4TP

The perfect pub to watch the world

go by with a pint, or to learn about the

brewing process with a tour of their

on-site brewhouse, or to chow down on

a delicious pie - St Andrews Brewhouse

has it all. What’s more, the location is

a gorgeous Grade II-listed building,

with industrial-style interior decor that

complements the visible brewhouse,

and there’s over a dozen cask and keg

beers to choose from (many of which

are the ones brewed in house). Bliss.


235 Queens Rd, NR1 3AE

Run by two passionate beer drinkers,

Dawn Hopkins and Carl Newell, the

Rose Inn is a must-visit gem in the

Norwich beer scene. Their motto is

to “drink extraordinary”, and they put

so much love and care into their pub

and the beers they serve that it makes

WORDS: Siobhan Hewison

my heart feel full. They have regular

events like live music, quizzes and free

pool days, a great burger menu, and

they even have a wee flat upstairs that

you can book through AirBnB. Is this

the perfect pub? I think it might be!


Norwich Market, 182 Market Pl,


Sir Toby’s Beers is a cute little bottle

shop and taproom at Norwich Market

which stocks an ever-changing range

of more than 100 local and UK beers.

Get some food from one of the

many stalls around the market, and

then come here to find the perfect

accompaniment to your scran. Keep an

eye on their social media channels to

find out about their regular events too!


43 Cowgate, NR3 1SZ

This friendly, unassuming local boasts

around 20 beers to choose from on

cask and keg, and a very extensive

pizza menu (about half of which is

vegan-friendly!) which makes it the

ultimate place to go with your pals for

an evening of food, drink and fun. They

show sports on their TVs - but not in

a ‘sports bar’ kinda way - and host a

weekly pub quiz and regular live music




Woodbastwick, NR13 6SW

About an hour away from Norwich

city centre on public transport,

Woodforde’s Brewery has been making

beer in the east of Norfolk County for

almost 40 years, although its founders

Ray and David have been home

brewing since the 60s. Over the last

few decades Woodforde’s has amassed

hundreds (literally) of awards, including

CAMRA’s Champion Beer of Britain

for their Wherry amber ale in the 90s,

which they’re still famous for today.

Go for a brewery tour, then settle in to

their pub the Fur & Feather for a few

pints - you won’t regret it.


Foragers’ Rest, Coltishall Road,

Buxton, NR10 5JD

The passionate foragers behind

Wildcraft Brewery try and use as

many wild ingredients as possible

in their brews, and if not they grow

their own. How nice is that? As well

as its environmentally friendly ethos,

this brewery is known for the cute

fluffy pink and green monster (called

Brewbacca - a local legend, apparently)

on its branding, and its tasty regular and

seasonal beers. Less than an hour away

from Norwich, they’re worth a visit!



Rosary Rd, NR1 4DA

The longest-running brewery in

Norwich, and based on the same

premises as the locally-beloved

Coach and Horses pub, Chalk Hill

Brewery brews a range of ‘proper’

ales using only Norfolk maltings

and the best hops around so is a

must-visit for fans of a good pint of

cask ale! Fun fact: the area around

the brewery is home to some of the

chalk and flint mines that Norwich

was famous for as far back as the 12th



98-100 Lawson Rd, NR3 4LF

This brewery was opened by pub

landlord Colin Keatley back in 2005,

and you can find their extensive

range of real ales at its three pubs in

Norwich - the Fat Cat Brewery Tap,

the Fat Cat Freehouse, and the Fat

Cat and Canary, all of which have the

dozens of Fat Cat Brewery ales on

tap. The brewery and the three pubs

are CAMRA favourites, so you know

they’re all worth checking out!



39 Market Pl, NR2 1ND

Everyone loves pizza, right? And

according to locals, this is the best pizza

joint in town. Proper Italian thin-crust

pizza cooked in a brick oven, topped

with all the best ingredients. There’s

a whole host of options on tomato

sugo base (such as mozzarella, nduja,

pepperoni chunks and chilli honey), or

white base (mozzarella, gorgonzola,

porcini, rosemary and Norfolk ham).

BRB, I’m drooling.







9 St Benedicts St, NR2 4PE

This three-AA Rosette-awarded

restaurant was opened in 2015 by Richard

Bainbridge, winner of the 2015 season

of the Great British Menu and Veteran

Judge of the 2017 season. The menu is

full of decadent, creative dishes, and

although it’s a fine dining restaurant, they

cater for all appetites and price points

- two courses cost £31, or you can have

three for £39, and their seven-course

tasting menu will set you back £60, plus

£40 for paired wines. They even have a

very reasonably-priced set lunch menu,

and a kids menu if you would like to bring

your little nipper with you.


St Georges St, NR3 1AB

This truly lovely wine bar and brasserie is

based in a former Victorian shoe factory

in Norwich’s Creative Quarter. Their food

menu is stunning - with plenty of meat,

fish, veggie and vegan options, there’s

something delicious for everyone here.

Think luxurious fine dining without the

price tag - how do you fancy a sourdough

donut stuffed with crab, followed by a

whole roasted partridge, and then a fig

frangipane to finish? Since The Last is also

a wine bar, you can expect some of the

finest wines around to sip while you eat.




The Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts is a

stunning art gallery and museum located

on the University of East Anglia campus.

There’s a whole host of artist exhibits,

special/collection-based displays, and

project exhibitions at any given time,

and even the building itself is worth

seeing - a steel frame holds up huge

glass walls and shiny white panels. Book

a guided tour, or spend the afternoon

wandering around looking at all the cool




St George’s Distillery is home to the

English Whisky Co, the first distillery

in England in over 100 years. A mere

30 mins via train from the centre of

Norwich, the distillery runs tours every

day, and there’s a beautiful river walk

on the premises too. Learn about the

whole process, taste some unique malt

whiskies, and relax in the countryside

afterwards. Dreamy!


Cocktails, karaoke, comfort food like

nachos and ribs, and a ten pin bowling

alley - if you’re looking for a fun night

out, Bowling House have you covered!

Perfect for groups big or small, and

family-friendly, they offer different

packages depending on what you want

to get up to at BoHo and how many

people you’re with. They’ve seemingly

thought of everything!



Beer52’s Bryce Kitcher practices his bladder

control on the final Brewdog Airlines jaunt

In February 2019, the first flight

of “Brewdog Airlines” took off,

flying 200-plus craft beer fans to

Columbus, Ohio on a Boeing 647. Eight

months later, I had the pleasure of

being a passenger on the second and

final flight, and got to take in the entire

Brewdog Airlines experience.

Wanna hear about it?

The Brewdog chartered flight boarded

in the salubrious surroundings of

London Stansted, with a welcoming

handshake from brewery co-founder

Martin Dickie. Before taking to the

air, there was an announcement from

Dickie and his Brewdog partner James

Watt, outlining what we could expect

from the trip. To sum it up in one word:

beer. More specifically, the beer, called

Cloud 9, is billed as a ‘Transatlantic

IPA,’ brewed to taste better at 40,000

feet. It is hazy, it is fruity, and I am

about 95% sure dry-hopping was

involved in the brewing process due to

the bitter after-taste.

To keep us entertained (as if copious

amounts of beer wasn’t enough),

we’re provided with several items on

our seats, including an iPad, loaded

with movies such as Aquaman and

Get Out, as well as several episodes

of the Brewdog Show to last through

the trip. There is also a bespoke inflight

magazine, detailing all of the

things we’ll get up to over the next

five days, a plastic beer cup, and a

nice warm blanket in case things get

chilly. Oh, and a Punk IPA, of course.

Brewdog’s flagship beers are all on

the menu: Punk, Elvis Juice, Hazy

Jane, Dead Pony Club, as well as the

aforementioned Cloud 9.

The experience on the flight is

amazing and the level of service is

exceptional. Whenever I run out of

beer, a passing air hostess offers me

another one. It may also be my first

time getting warm food on an airplane

which I actually enjoyed; the chicken

tikka masala in particular went down

very well with a can of Hazy Jane.

Nightmare at 40,000ft

Then, at around six hours into the

nine-hour flight, everyone’s worst

fears became reality: it is announced

that the toilets were almost at full

capacity. After inhaling several cans of

Brewdog’s offerings, I am overwhelmed

by mortal dread.

This issue prompts Brewdog reps

to walk up and down the aisles asking

everyone to “only use the toilet if you

really need to”. Myself, I only ever use

the toilet when I really need to – it’s not

a place I’ll hang around just for a laugh

– but that’s where my drinking stops. I

can’t run the risk of a three-hour (plus

the unknown amount of time it will

take to get through US customers) stint

of putting my bladder under extreme

pressure. A similar incident apparently

occurred on Brewdog Airlines’ first

flight in February, with passengers

apparently running full-speed off the

plane to desperately seek a hole in

the ground. All that beer has to go


In the Dog House

Touching down in John Glenn Airport,

we’re taken through US customs in

a break-neck 45 minutes, then on to

our buses with another goodie bag.

Thankfully after the long flight, the

journey to the 42-acre Doghouse hotel

only takes twenty minutes. We’re all

a bit sleep deprived and have been

tanning free beer at altitude for the

best part of half a day, and to be honest

I’m starting to feel a little dislocated

from reality.

This is perhaps why I don’t bat an

eyelid when Wonder Woman welcomes

us off the bus and hands us over to sixfoot

tall Pickle Rick, who in turn guides

us towards the hotel. It isn’t until a

grinning pirate-skeleton checks me into

my hotel room that I remember it’s 31

October – Halloween – and everything

clicks into place.

My room is on the third floor,

overlooking the Overworks brewery.

Not the view everyone would choose

for their holiday, but for me (and

probably you, if you’re reading this)




the rows of sleeping barrels are the

finest vista imaginable. The room itself

is pretty spectacular, from the bigscreen

TV to the second mini-bar in

the shower. After a can of Decadent’s

Strawberry Coconut Smoothie, I sleep

as deeply as I ever have in my life,

ready for the next day’s adventures.

Down to business

The following morning features a tour

of the brewery, starting with the lab,

where Brewdog Columbus’ chief beer

tester talks us through the chemistry

and micro-testing involved in his

work. He treats our group to a sample

of the brewery’s latest experiment, a

nitrogenated version of its Choco Libre

Mexican-spiced chocolate imperial


The brewery itself holds few

surprises – you’ve seen one, you’ve

seen them all, to a degree – but what

does impress is the sheer scale and

level of automation compared to the

craft beer setups I’m used to. The

canning line is more like the gleaming

conveyor of an electronics factory than

the messy, temperamental contraptions

I’ve come to expect, while the detail

of the brew itself is controlled by a

few smart people sitting in front of a

lot of computers. I’m not completely

sure how I feel about this emotionally,

but only a total cynic could fail to be


Over the next few days we are

allowed to explore three major cities

in the region; Columbus, Cincinnati

and Indianapolis. There will be more

on these rather more extra-curricular

adventures in the next issue of


The experience on

the flight is amazing

and the level of service

is exceptional

Tuesday, our final day, comes far too

soon. After having such a blast in the

States, all I wanted to do was go back

to the start and do it all again. Our

flight home isn’t until 10pm, so for my

last half-day, I make sure to check out

Brewdog Franklinton and Brewdog

Short-North, as well as paying a final

farewell to one of my favourite places

on the trip, the Seventh Son taproom.

I even managed a terrifying ride on a

“Lime,” one of the thousands of electric

scooters spread around Ohio.

Full credit to Brewdog, they organise

one hell of a trip. I heard nothing but

good things from the many passengers I

spoke with in my five days in the States.

Each and every one of them took home

memories and experiences that they

will never forget, it truly was a trip of a

lifetime. If Brewdog Airlines ever takes

to the skies once more in future, I pray

that I get invited to do it all again.



Shooting the Bries

RECIPES & PHOTOS: Alex Paganelli


Alex Paganelli serves up three Alpine cheese

classics that are close to his heart

This month it’s all about The Alps

and I couldn’t be more excited

to share these recipes with you. I

was born and raised in the French Alps,

in a little village about an hour’s drive

from Chambery. I’ve spent my life in

the mountains and trained as a ski racer

until I was about 15 years old. I still visit

the Alps today, though these days I like

to ski near Chamonix in Haute Savoie;

the terrain is wild and steep, which is

exactly what I love when it comes to

racing down a mountain.

Every year when I fly back, there

are a few things that really bring back

all my memories from when I used to

live there. It’s a sort of ritual. I land at

Geneva Aiport and cross the border

into France, rent a car and drive to my

friends who live on the French side of

the lake of Geneva.

I ski every day I’m there, because I

just refuse to waste a day sitting around

and doing nothing. I train my legs extra

hard at the gym the month before I

go, so that I won’t be sore after day

one. I cook for my friends every night,

because both cooking and skiing are

my absolute two favourite things to do

in life.

Even though I eat a lot of vegan food

these days, and try to stick to a vegan

diet when I visit the mountains, there

are three dishes I will always make an

exception for. You won’t be able to

recreate these with a vegan cheese

alternative and please don’t try; you

won’t get anywhere with it. This month’s

recipes are classic dishes I grew up with,

which remind me of my childhood and

represent everything the mountains

were and are today. So for once I won’t

be cooking something that’s ‘inspired’,

but in fact quite traditional.

To make this dead easy for everyone,

all three recipes for this month are

based on potatoes, cured meats and

cheeses. The choice of cheese is

important, and each dish is prepared in

a completely different way, and suited

for different occasions.

You’ve probably already guessed it,

but the first dish we will be making is

fondue Savoyarde. This is possibly the

most famous Alpine dish, traditionally

using Comte and Beaufort cheeses.

Our second dish is Raclette. A really

fun dish that can be served in many

different ways, it’s basically a grilled

piece of cheese that’s scraped onto

boiled potatoes, cornichons, and

cured meats. Perhaps the least high

maintenance of all three, this one does

need another specific cheese: Raclette

cheese. You can buy Raclette cheese in

slices, but I prefer to buy a huge chunk

and either blowtorch it or pass it under

the grill before scraping it with a large

knife or spatula.

Our third dish this month is

Tartiflette. This is by far my favourite,

the most flavourful and utterly

delicious. Potatoes, lardons, white

wine and shallots seared in a pan, with

a whole slice of Roblechon baked on

top. It has to be done with this specific

cheese only – you can find it in some

markets or specialised cheese mongers.


Fondue Savoyarde



• 500g of Comté

(in small cubes)

• 500g of Beaufort

(in small cubes)

• 300ml of dry white wine

• A splash of Kirsch

• 1 tsp of corn flour

• Salt & pepper to taste

• A pinch of nutmeg

To serve / dip:

• Boiled potatoes

• Cured meats

• Chunky sourdough bread

• Green salad

Mix the cold wine, Kirsch and corn

flour until dissolved. Place in a pot on

medium heat and once warmed up, add

the cheese cut into small cubes.

Still on medium heat, let the cheese

melt while stirring constantly with a

small spatula in the shape of a figure

of 8. Don’t whisk it! It will separate

otherwise. Be gentle and patient.

If the sauce is too runny, add a little

more cheese. If it’s too thick, add a little

more wine or Kirsch.

Once the cheese in fully melted,

place in the fondue set and dip in.




• A large piece of

Raclette cheese

• Handful of boiled

new potatoes

• A few slices of cured meats

(bresaola, ham, coppa,

mortadella, speck…)

• Handful of cornichons

• Pinch of freshly

chopped parsley

Place the chunk of Raclette cheese

under the grill or blowtorch until the

surface of the slice has melted.

Scrape the melted cheese onto the

boiled potatoes, cured ham, cornichons

and fresh herbs. Serve with fresh bread.

Repeat the process until you’re

basically in a cheese coma!






• 1 half of a Roblechon

(sliced into a circle)

• 1 large shallot, finely diced

• 1 pack of lardons

• 2 cloves of garlic

• 1kg of new potatoes,

halved, boiled skin on

(but still a little crunchy)

• 1/3 rd of a bottle of white wine

(I used a Viogner, you could

swap for a nice Burgundy)

This is a one-pan dish, so everything is

cooked in the same pot throughout.

Start by heating the oven to 190C on

fan. Place an ovenproof pan onto your

hob on high heat and cook the lardons

until dark and almost crispy. Set the

lardons aside, but keep the fat in the

pan for the shallots.

Sear the shallots on medium to

low heat with a little salt for about 10

minutes. Set aside with the lardons.

Turn the heat back onto high, add a

little oil if needed, and sear the boiled

potatoes with a little more salt for about

5 minutes. Once they start to be golden,

add the shallots and lardons back into

the pan, and the crushed cloves of

garlic. Give it a light stir and add the

white wine. Cook until half reduces.

Add a little cracked pepper onto the

potatoes, and cover with the halved

cheese. Bake at 190C for 40 minutes, or

until the cheese is completely melted

and the crust is golden.

Serve with a green salad.


Anthony Gladman experiences the magic

of a traditional apple harvest with natural

cider maker Little Pomona

After a long run of dull grey days,

the autumn sun has returned to

Herefordshire. In response, the

countryside has put on its Sunday best

and once-distant slopes, shorn of their

mist, seem close at hand. Low morning

light streams through the orchard at

Little Pomona cidery. The glistening

grass, still wet from yesterday’s rain,

glows a deep vibrant green, and damp-

trunked apple trees reach out black

shadows to meet me. I turn around

and, with the light to my back, see the

apples that weigh down their branches

shine bright red against the pure blue


Blair, a volunteer from Canada, who

has been here some weeks already,

walks ahead of me carrying a thick

pole. It is perhaps four metres long and

terminates in an iron hook. This is a

panking pole, used for shaking apples

from the trees.

One way or another

In big commercial orchards, growers

have mechanised the harvest. Tractors

cruise the rows with tree-shaking

attachments clamped to their back end.

A metal arm clasps each trunk in turn

and strips the tree of its fruit with just

a few seconds’ pitiless vibration. More

tractors follow in their wake, driving

over the apples and scooping them up.

Tractors with blowers tidy up, puffing

fallen fruit from under the trees into

the space between the rows. It’s fast,

efficient and utterly indiscriminate.

Mainstream producers will press the

apples and water down the juice before

fermenting it. They will back-sweeten

the resulting cider, pasteurise it and

maybe add artificial colouring. So

they won’t mind if they take a few bad

apples in with the good. It’s almost like

the apples don’t matter at all. “For some

producers, it tends to be the bigger

you get, the more the apple becomes

an inconvenience,” says James Forbes,

who founded Little Pomona with his

wife Susanna in late 2014. He suspects

that, were it not a legal requirement for

them to derive their alcohol from apple

juice, they might not bother with them

at all.

In the Little Pomona orchard, careful

selection is the rule of the day. “Trees

are very different to vines,” says James.

Founders of Little Pomona: James and Susanna Forbes

The way the vines are trained you get

the grapes, they're all uniformly ripe.

Whereas apple trees have these big

canopies, and you get fruit inside the

canopy which may ripen, but probably

long after harvest is done and all the

pressing is finished. So you necessarily

have to weed out some of that fruit

because it's not ripe enough. Because

every piece of that fruit you put in,

you're actually diluting what you really


We've come back to the way

that some of the best ciders

were made in olden times

I’m wearing waterproof trousers, as

instructed. Susanna, Blair and I walk

the rows to select a tree that looks

ready. Once we have chosen our tree,

we kneel before it in the long wet grass

and start picking through the windfall

apples, sorting them into three groups.

Ripe apples go into crates to take to the

cidery for milling and pressing. Green

apples are kept to ripen off the tree.

The bad ones — rotten, insect-damaged

or with a skin that has been otherwise

pierced — we throw away.

After we have cleared the ground

beneath the tree, we spread out two

large tarpaulins, one on each side

of its trunk. Blair hooks the panking

pole into the crook of an apple-laden

branch and shakes. At once a cascade

of apples thumps onto the tarpaulin

like heavy rain, and we’re on our knees

again to sort them. It goes quicker this

time than it did with the windfalls.

It’s easier than picking them from the

grass. You get into a rhythm. It’s almost

meditative, but then I didn’t do it for

much more than an hour. A full day is

backbreaking work.

“Very few people pick fruit the

way we do,” says James. “There are

people who will hand-shake trees on

to tarpaulins to gather up the fruit,

but they won't make that on-the-floor

selection, they'll sort it at a different

stage.” Picking in this manner is slow

and deliberate. It must be done by

hand and is labour-intensive. “In a way,

just naturally, we've come back to the

way that some of the best ciders were

made in olden times,” says Susanna.

Back to the apple

In Excise Notice 162, section 25, Her

Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (a.k.a.

HMRC, a.k.a. The Man) sets out in a

longish list the ingredients permitted

within the manufacture of cider and

perry. I counted 42 of them, including

nitrogen (no limit on how much may

be used), sulphur dioxide and its salts




(E220 – E224, E226 – E228), and a

colouring called Acid Brilliant Green

BS (E142).

At Little Pomona, James and

Susanna use just one: apples. “It’s

the only ingredient that we have,

so they're pretty vital to the whole

process,” says James. “We need to

ensure a number of things. A, that

we're picking from good orchards. B,

that we're picking fruit that's in great

condition, and that we're pressing it

when it's ripe. And if we do that, we

stand a really good chance of making

something that tastes good at the end

of the process. If we don't do that,

then we'll never make anything taste


A large part of the cider

maker’s skill lies in selecting

the right blend of apples

We can group cider apples into four

broad types based on their levels of

mallic acid and tannin. They can be

sweet (low acid, low tannin), sharp

(high acid, low tannin), bittersweet

(low acid, high tannin) or bittersharp

(high acid, high tannin). But beyond

that are the individual varieties, of

which there are several hundred, each

with their own nuances of aroma and


Take the Dabinett for example. This

bittersweet apple is the workhorse of

the cider world, and the most widely

planted cider apple in the UK. It is a

smallish apple that ripens to a deep

rich red. It will dry your mouth out

on the first bite – most of the tannins

are near the skin – but bite again,

deeper into its flesh, and it will reward

you with a burst of juice and flavour.

Tasting one in the orchard I found

unexpected hints of vanilla and clove.

The Foxwhelp (bittersharp) looks

similar, but once you take a bite there

is no way you could mistake it for a

Dabinett. The Foxwhelp apple I tasted

fresh from the tree in the orchard sang

– no, screamed – with bright acidity.

Once it had faded from my tongue I

found its memory calling me back for

another bite.

There are countless more, some

with excellent names like Slack-ma-

Girdle, Yellow Willy, Overleaf, Bastard

Underleaf, Bushy French, Spotted

Dick and Shatfords (yes, I did have

fun researching that). A large part of

the cider maker’s skill lies in selecting

the right blend of apples, balancing

out what each one brings to achieve a

harmonious whole.

The opportunities are the

complexity of the apple,” says Susanna.

“And there's so much vibrancy, there's

so much flavour, and almost what's

unexploited so far is the opportunity to

really make some fine ciders out of the

flavours that are out there.”

Volunteer Blair shaking apples

Governed by time

Harvest season for apples runs through

October and November. And while

the pace seems a touch less frantic

than with other crops, it’s still a busy

time. “It’s a bit more forgiving because

you can store apples for several weeks

without them degrading too much,”

says James. “But it's not without

problems. At the moment it seems

relaxed, but we're about to get an awful

lot of fruit arriving. And that tends to

be the way it goes with us because

we're after bittersweet fruit, which

tends to ripen later.”

Late nights at the apple press are

common once the fruit is in; the apples

must be pressed while they are ripe.

The day before my stint in the orchard

I joined cider makers for an evening

sharing stories and samples at the

Ross on Wye cider club. For some, this

was the first day off in a month. “It’s

relentless, but there is this lovely spirit

that keeps you going, although coffee is

very important,” says Susanna.

Learning by doing

With small producers, much of this

seasonal work relies on volunteers like

Blair. “They're part of the lifeblood of

craft cider making,” Susanna tells me.

“And that's where a lot of it begins. I

think a lot of volunteers will end up

making their own cider.”

Susanna started as a volunteer

herself. Before founding Little Pomona

she learned her craft helping at the

Ross on Wye Cider & Perry Co (which

won Best Drinks Producer in the 2019

BBC Food and Farming Awards). “I did

three full days at Ross and I remember

it absolutely vividly. One day I was

on the press with John, which is

fascinating. And that's when they had a

big old rack and cross press. So it was

building the cheeses and getting it all




right there. Another day I was picking

on one of the orchards nearby. And

then the next day was the day when

they said: right, the perry tree is ready;

we must go! And we all jumped in a sort

of pickup truck and it was half an hour's

drive. You have to find your ingredients,

you have to go to them. They're in

charge. And it was damp, absolutely.

Waterproof trousers, everything. And

we were there a full half day, and we

picked, I don't know, three quarters of a

ton, a ton, and we were happy.”

Mass-produced supermarket cider

is a poor lifeless thing. Its makers have

sacrificed depth and nuance for scale

and stability. It has lost its connection

to the land. But natural cider keeps

this link. The terroir expressed in

the apples is so strong that natural

cider makers sometimes like to test

themselves against each other with

a ‘Dabinett-off’ – a side-by-side blind

tasting of single-variety ciders made

in the same method from the same

apples in which the results will always

differ. When you’re in the orchard, it’s

a living place. “These apples, they're

still kind of evolving and living after

you pick them,” says Susanna. James

too describes craft cider making as a

living process. “The final products are

live because we're not pasteurising

it or filtering it. It's a living thing and

evolving over time. Which is what I

really like.”

These apples, they're still

kind of evolving and living

after you pick them

The cider making method Susanna

and James use at Little Pomona, and

that other similar producers use, is

simply to wash, mill and crush the

fruit. They collect the juice and let it

ferment naturally into cider using the

wild yeasts already present on the fruit

and in the air. Nothing is added except

time. The process is so minimal that

what matters most is the hand of the

maker and the land where the apples

grow. It all starts in the orchard with

the fruit.

If you want to see where cider

comes from you must get onto the

land. There’s no substitute for the mud

on your hands, the fresh apple smell

in your nostrils and the cider maker

at your shoulder pouring knowledge

into your ear as you walk the orchard

together. And there are plenty of small

producers happy to take in volunteers

– who rely on them, even – to bring the

fruit in from the fields. In return they

will house you, feed you and treat you

to ciders you will remember for years

to come.



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bottle packaging



12 pack upgrade beers 10 pack upgrade beers

bamba neipa

Mister B Brewery


Don Pablo, perhaps, would have wanted it that way.

Smooth, exotic and not very bitter, with a secret

ingredient: lots of cold lupulin powder, amazing!

New England IPA with a smooth tropical and citrusy

flavour, a bit of spicy aftertaste for lots of Ekuanot

Cryo used in late and dry-hop.


Popihn Brewery


ABV: 6.3% Enjoy at 7°-8°C

Style: NEIPA


B is the first consonant of the

alphabet, initial of many words, but

of one in particular: Beer, the good

one. From the passion and the idea

of ​new Italian beers to drink on every

occasion, the MISTER B project has

grown. Field experience in other

brewing situations, wandering around

breweries around the world, starting

with homebrewing and simple

study, drinking a lot and trying to be

curious: this is the recipe for

a beer with positivity.


ABV: 4.8% Enjoy at 7°C

Style: Pale Ale


crazy sister

Reservoir Dogs Brewery

ABV: 7% Enjoy at 8°-10°C

Style: NEIPA


Former gypsy brewers, now

leading lights of the Slovenian

craft scene, Reservoir Dogs'

roots lay in the region's famous

wine industry. It's brewing some

phenomenally tasty, sessionable

beers, as well as many exciting

small-batch projects behind the

scenes. A really smart, friendly

bunch, and definitely a brewery

to watch closely.



Big Mountain Brew

ABV: 5.2% Enjoy at 5°C

Style: Session IPA


A crazy hopped and juicy NEIPA with a Wolf

soul. Hazy with tropical aromas, piney and silky

mouthfeel. It has a distinctive character from the

new Slovenian hops Styrian Wolf.


Icauna Pale Ale is Popihn's classic beer brewed all

year round. Affordable and sessionable, it's light,

refreshing, crispy and slightly hoppy with a malt

grown on Popihn's farm.


Popihn, based in the bucolic

countryside of Burgundy, was

founded by Arnaud Popihn in

2017 and soon joined by his Head

Brewer Gunther Oltra. Mainly

focusing on hoppy and hazy beers,

Popihn are not afraid to brew some

big stouts (soon barrel aged),

berliner weisse and lagers. They've

started working on a new wild beer

range this year and are expecting

to release it in 2020.


Big Mountain is an award-winning

craft brewery based in Chamonix

Mont-Blanc, in the heart of the

French Alps. Their beers reflect

the mountains that surround

the brewery. Brewed with clear

mountain water, and inspired by

the strength and spirit of not only

the mountains themselves, but also

by the community of this stunning

mountain town.


Juicy, tropical and filled with Simcoe and

Centennial hops. Brewed with some classic West

coast hops and the modern East coast lowbitterness,

to give a true Mountain IPA.



Everyone is drinking these beers this month

Everyone is drinking these beers this month

French IPA




hell das blaue

ABK Brewery

ABV: 5.4% Enjoy at 7°C

Style: IPA

ABV: 5% Enjoy at 5°C

Style: Munich Helles


Ninkasi French IPA has malted body, brewed with 100%

French ingredients. It first hits the mouth with powerful

fruitiness, then delivers a delicate bitterness. This beer

style is inspired by the traditional pale ales and revisited

with hops grown in Alsace, France.


Created in Lyon in 1997 by three

graduates fresh out of university,

Ninkasi was one of the pioneers of

the craft beer movement in France.

The production site is now located

in an old textile mill in Tarare, where

the water is known for its purity and

softness, making it ideal for brewing.

A distillery was installed in 2015 and

Ninkasi now also produces its own

single malt whisky, gin and vodka.


Sitting at the base of the Alps

surrounded by woods in the

medieval town of Kaufbeuren,

Bavaria. Dating back to 1308, the

ABK brewery is renowned for

its superb beers. ABK uses the

finest locally grown hops and

grains from the same local farms

they have been using since 1308,

coupled with pure water from

beneath the brewery cellars.


Lightly golden, with a soft, sweet aroma and floral hop

notes. The taste is full-bodied grain with lots of green

apple and light but persistent hints of pine and herbs,

with a slight bitterness that persists through to the finish.

zo session ipa

Bevog Brauhaus Brewery



ju-ju juice

Lost + Found

ABV: 4.3% Enjoy at 7°C

Style: Session IPA

ABV: 2.8% Enjoy at 7°C

Style: DDH Session IPA


Zo is a playful Session IPA, with distinctive tropical,

citrus and grapefruit character. The soft malt backbone

combined with oatmeal gives it a finely balanced

body. Huge amounts of fruity American and Australian

hops turn this beer into a magnificent hop party with

amazingly balanced bitterness and slim alcohol level.


Bevog brewery is the fruit of

inquisitiveness and aspiration,

enthusiasm, love and zeal. Its core

line is made up of ‘classic’ craft beer

styles, brewed with passion and

utmost care for detail. It also brews

a number of special limited beers –

it's ‘Who Cares editions’ – which aim

to “push the brewing experience

to another dimension with wild and

crazy ideas”. All of the above has

been confirmed by numerous awards

and prizes, and above all by the many

happy beer drinkers.


Lost + Found was born in 2015 in a

townhouse garage in Brighton. This

hand-built ‘brewing laboratory’ was

created by founders Simon and Chris to

make the finest, no-compromise beer

anyone has ever made, and share it with

their family of friends. Since then the

brewery has grown significantly, while

the journey has been foot to the floor

and taken them on a rollercoaster ride.

With tap takeovers at The Rake and Tate

Modern under their belt, collaborations

in Russia and global exports in all

directions, they are making big waves.


Okay, not brewed in the Alps, but a true exclusive,

available only to Beer52 members! A big beer at

an ABV that begs to differ. Mosaic and Galaxy

deliver notes of blueberries and tropical fruits,

supplemented with citrus and grapefruit. Medium

bitterness and medium-to-full body and mouthfeel.



This month's light case selection

Switch to light case to get these beers

yes boss!




little sister

Reservoir Dogs Brewery


Easygoing brew with citrus and coconut hop notes

and lingering bitter aftertaste. This beer has a blend

of hops dedicated to the enhancement of Slovenian

hop Styrian Wolf balanced off with a nice caramel

body, dry finish and mouth-watering aftertaste.

ABV: 4.8% Enjoy at 8°C

Style: Pale Ale


Pelicon opened its doors in the heart

of the Vipava Valley, in Slovenia in 2013.

The idea came after Anita and Matej

spent years as beer journalists and

amateur home-brewers, travelling the

UK, Belgium and Italy. Their main goal

is to brew beers that are honouring

Slovenian hops, that are delicious and

balanced. Despite coming from a nonindustry

background and taking the self

learning approach to brewing.

ninkasi Hefeweizen



ABV: 4.5% Enjoy at 7°C

Style: Hefeweizen

ABV: 5% Enjoy at 8°-10°C

Style: Session NEIPA


A low ABV juicy NEIPA.

A hazy tropical hop bomb

with two new Slovenian

hop varieties - Styrian

Dragon and Styrian Wolf.

Dangerously drinkable!


iggy ipa


ABV: 6.5% Enjoy at 6°-8°C

Style: IPA


Diving into the Bavarian

brewing tradition, Ninkasi

Hefeweizen makes room for

the yeast, giving subtle notes

of banana. The use of malted

wheat adds a hint of spice to

the fruity notes of German

hops. Delicate and dry, this

velvety wheat beer will

refresh and charm you.


The Tektonik Craft Brewery

opened in 2015. Its energetic

staff boasts of the state-of-theart

equipment, in terms of both

technology and moral.

The zealous and devoted team

does not bow down to any

obstacles when it comes to

brewing. Especially not to thirst,

according to Chief Brewer Marko

Jamnik: "We are simply in love

with beer!"


Iggy IPA boasts an appealing amber colour with a thick and lightly

tinged head. A touch of sweet caramel and roasted malt prevails in

its medium strength body. It is amply flavoured with hops that give

it a pleasant flowery aroma, while at the back lurks a fragrant citrus

flavour with a hint of liquorice, conifer resin and honey.



This month's mixed case selection

Switch to mixed case to get these beers

black aurora




batch #50

Reservoir Dogs Brewery

ABV: 6.2% Enjoy at 10°C

Style: Single Hop Dark Ale

ABV: 9.5% Enjoy at 12°C

Style: Imperial Stout


Dark smooth body with

chocolate and coffee notes.

Rounded with fine bitterness

of Styrian Aurora - noble

Slovene hop variety. Very

drinkable dark ale. Awarded

Best In Show at Central

European Craft Beer

Conference in Budapest.


Brewed using eight different

types of malt to get a wellbalanced

imperial stout, with

a full body, silky texture and

gentle aromas, and tastes of

chocolate, caramel, coffee. The

hops are Slovenian of course,

this time Styrian Bobek.

ninkasi noire





White Pony

ABV: 5.1% Enjoy at 7°C

Style: French Porter

ABV: 8.5% Enjoy at 9°-12°C

Style: Tripel


Ninkasi Noire is a sweet,

smooth beer, with coffee and

chocolate notes. This beer

is inspired by a 19th century

brown beer, brewed in Lyon

and known throughout France.

At the time, the town had

numerous breweries, but they

gradually disappeared with the

arrival of the industrial era.

A true Lyonnais beer!


White Pony Microbrewery is a

one-man brewing project started

in 2013 by a 24 year old guy

with Belgian roots. The name

of the brewery is inspired by

the Deftones' album. Brewing

innovative, extreme craft beers in

the belief that brewing is an art,

which is why each of their beers

is paired with a music album.

White Pony brew big beers full

of taste, while listening to some

headbanging music. Keep it crazy!


A classic Belgian-style tripel, brewed with a couple

of base malts, wheat, sugar and the best Trappist

yeast. Pouring blonde with a medium mouthfeel, the

character is malty citrus, cereal, yellow fruits, spice

from the yeast and herbal hop notes.



Harmony Marsh of craft chocolate subscription

service Cocoa Runners explores the similarities

between craft beer and craft chocolate

Over the past few years, from

Budapest to Brooklyn and Saigon

to San Francisco, a growing

band of cacao farmers and small

batch chocolate makers have been

pioneering a revolution in single estate,

craft chocolate. Just as with beer and

its grains and hops, the key to great

chocolate starts with amazing beans.

Both too require careful harvesting,

fermentation and a knack for craft. And

just as with beer, with chocolate “less

is more”. Craft chocolate makers are all

about coaxing the full flavour of their

beans, adding and taking away as little

as possible.

What we call Single Estate Craft

Chocolate is chocolate made directly

from bean to bar, crafted in ‘small’

batches with a conscious effort behind

the sourcing of the cacao and other


Craft chocolate makers source

their cacao based on flavour,

transparency and the farmers.

Why the farmers? Because

craft chocolate makers want

to celebrate all the work that

cocoa farmers do in their

growing and post-harvest


The overall experience -

flavour, texture and mouthfeel - of a craft

chocolate bar is thus an orchestration of

cacao genetics and terroir, the farmers’

post-harvest practices, and the chocolate

maker’s processing of ‘bean to bar’.

The style of a chocolate maker involves

the many steps and processes chosen

whilst crafting chocolate. One of the first

major steps in the bean to bar process

is the roasting. Similar to beer with

roasting malts for darker beers, roasting

cacao attributes to the flavour of the

final product and it too undergoes a

Maillard reaction. Similar to coffee too,

think of your light, medium and

dark roasts.

Another important step is the

grinding, refining and “conching”.

The grinding of cacao and sugar is

to reduce the particle size of the

chocolate, allowing for a smoother - or

rougher - texture. During and more-so

after the grinding, the chocolate maker

will ‘conche’ its chocolate. Conching

involves heat and aeration of the molten

chocolate, with its main purpose to

smooth out the particles of the cocoa

and sugar. Conching helps evenly

distribute the cocoa butter within for

a smoother texture and helps with the

flavour development and overall balance

of flavour - not too acidic, not too bitter.

Craft chocolate makers

source their cacao based

on flavour, transparency

and the farmers.

Single estate craft chocolate is often

separated into two incredibly broad

categories: USA style and French style.

American craft chocolate is typically

made with just two ingredients: cacao

beans and sugar. Whereas ‘French style’

chocolate is known for its extra

added cocoa butter, some adding

much more than others, making it

much creamier on the palate and

buttery in texture. Both however,

are fond of a smaller particle size in

their chocolate and conching. The

French and Americans also tend to

use different grinders and conches

– the French rely on their heritage

with a preference for “longitudinal

conches”, whereas Americans

prefer converted ball mill

refiners and grinders

based off indian lentil


These two styles of

chocolate making are not

the be-all and end-all. It might

be easier to see these two styles as

opposites on a spectrum. The former

associated with a ‘purer’ flavour

and representation of the bean, the

latter more of a ‘traditional’ style of

chocolate making - something one

might consider more indulgent. There

are of course chocolate makers who go

against their nation’s tradition grain, for

example American chocolate makers

using additional cocoa butter or French

makers not using added cocoa butter

at all. We typically see more variation





the two parties

than between them. Case in point,

stone-ground chocolate.

Taza in Somerville, Massachusetts

crafts ‘stone-ground’ chocolate from

solely cocoa beans and cane sugar. The

chocolate has a gritty and biscuit-like

texture, and to achieve this rustic style

Taza follows a short grind of its cacao

and sugar - i.e. the chocolate has a

much larger particle size, and also omits

‘conching’. This style is neither distinctly

American nor French, but it would have

been how all chocolate was made about

150 years ago - way before conching had

been invented!

Looking at chocolate that’s crafted

in countries where cocoa grows, for

example Menakao who crafts its

chocolate in Madagascar, the style

typically lies somewhat in the middle

between the American and French

approach. This also rings true for

chocolate that’s crafted in Peru,

the Philippines, Brazil, to name a

few. Majority of the single estate

chocolate crafted at origin is smooth

in texture and also conched, however

typically the particle size is a little

rougher than American and French

styles. Again, fortunately this is not the

be-all and end-all as each maker has its

own distinct style.

Terroir in cacao

Terroir is the French word for soil, and

when used in the context of single estate

wine it refers to a region’s climate, soil

and terrain. However, it too is prevalent

in the growing of single estate cacao.

Much like how the varieties of cocoa

and the post-harvest practices affect

the flavour of cacao, the soil and climate

conditions often result in some cocoa

growing regions (“origins”) having

distinct flavour profiles. For example,

Madagascan cacao will often have

very strong notes of red fruits or citrus,

whereas Ecuadorian cacao is often more

vegetal and earthy. Indeed, cacao that

is also grown in the same country but

in different regions, for example Cusco

versus Piura in Peru, the cacao will have

very different flavour profiles. This is

what we refer to as “terroir” in chocolate.


hen pairing beer and

chocolate, we recommend

assembling 3-4 bars;

ideally from different

cacao regions and of different

intensities. Here is a great opportunity

to also introduce different chocolate

makers (and from different countries!)

Do the same with beer. Introduce

different styles – from NEIPA to fruitled

sours to chocolate stouts.

Invite at least one – and ideally

more – friends. We strongly encourage

sharing the pairing experience with

more people, as no two palates are the

same – but foremost because it is a

really fun experience!

Have some water on hand and

any neutral palate cleansers, such as


When choosing the bars and beers,

look for flavours and textures that not

only match (e.g. smoked chocolate

with smoked beer), but pairings

that also contrast (e.g. stone-ground

chocolate with a smooth beer). Some

pairings work together by layering

or fulfilling complexity (e.g. a fruity,

complex Belgian beer with a rich,

indulgent bar akin to chocolate


We recommend trying the following


71 Brewing’s Après Apricot Session Pale x

TCHO Dark Milk Chocolate

A much more obvious match, the fudgy notes

in Tcho’s smooth, creamy chocolate play very

nicely with the floral apricot in the beer. Hoppy

bitterness still provides a good counterpoint to

what is otherwise a sweet chocolate.

Tempest Brewing Co’s Black Kolsch x Taza

Chocolate’s Cinnamon Chocolate Mexicano

This rich, incredibly deep stone-ground chocolate

is a surprisingly perfect partner to Tempest’s crisp,

bitter black Kolsh. Neither dominates, but the

contrasting mouthfeel is really interesting, while the

beer draws out the cinnamon, and different kinds of

bitterness layer on your tongue.

Big Mountain’s IPA x Original Beans’ Cru

Udzungwa 70% with nibs

A fantastically complex chocolate that reveals itself

only gradually, with the cacao nibs adding wonderful

texture as well as flavour. The finish is long, with bitter

notes of Seville orange, which pairs perfectly with the

tropical Simcoe and Centennial hops of Big Mountain’s

flagship IPA. Both beer and chocolate strike a balance

between smoothness, bitter astringency and zesty

sweetness. A great match.




It can be pretty harsh on the mountain. Here are a couple of ideas to

keep you feeling toasty and looking sharp.




They hand craft beard care products

in small batches and only use cracking

ingredients. Oh, and they smell

awesome too… Their premium organic

beard oils, and beard balms are pure

and nourishing, like nature intended.




Streamlined stretch, waterproof and insulated ski jacket with

down fill and detachable hood. Stay agile this ski season in

Hawes. This smart, waterproof and breathable ski jacket offers

stretch performance with the advantage of a stealthy down fill

for the ultimate in Alpine insulation. Incorporating a detachable

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all your ski essentials. The muted winter colour options and sleek

styling make it versatile enough to wear away from the slopes.





New Zealand

Join us on our farthest-flug adventure yet, as we explore the Kiwi craft revolution,

from breweries and bars to hops and hobbits.

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